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*** 2013 CFL Western Preview - Saskatchewan Roughriders ***
From The Sports Network
By Ted Michaels, CFL Editor
Regina, SK (Sports Network) - There's pressure, then there's Rider Pride pressure.
Regina, Saskatchewan sits in the middle of the Canadian prairies, about 300 miles north-west of Bismarck, North Dakota.
It's a lot like Green Bay. The 210,556 residents of Regina are football crazy. As a matter of fact, the whole province is football crazy. They'll talk about their Riders and the CFL, every day of the year.
This season, the football frenzy will be turned up several notches, because the 101st Grey Cup will be played at Mosaic Stadium.
And make no mistake, the Riders have built a veteran team, in the hope they will get to the big game.
First, the Riders acquired 15 year CFL veteran Geroy Simon, in an off-season trade. Simon merely happens to be the CFL's all-time leading in receiving yardage (989 catches for 15,787 yards and 100 touchdowns.)
Then, through free agency, they signed former Montreal Alouette defensive back Dwight Anderson. In 16 regular-season games with the Als in 2012, Anderson totaled 47 tackles and two interceptions.
In 98 career regular-season appearances, Anderson has recorded 290 tackles and 14 interceptions. He is a two-time divisional All-Star and was a Grey Cup champion in 2008 with Calgary.
They also signed ex-Toronto Argos defensive end Ricky Foley, who, in 2012, Toronto, recorded 35 defensive tackles, five special-teams tackles and three sacks in 18 regular season games. The 30-year-old added three defensive tackles and one sack in two playoff games before helping lead his team to a Grey Cup Championship with four defensive tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery. He was named the Grey Cup's Most Valuable Canadian for his efforts.
Add to that mix defensive back Weldon Brown, who was in Edmonton last year, and former Hamilton Tiger-Cat Rey Williams, who returns to Saskatchewan at middle linebacker after playing there from 2007-09, and it's clear what the Riders' modus operandi is.
And to make things even more interesting, just after training camp started, former Rider John Chick signed a new deal after spending the last three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Back for another season is starting quarterback Darian Durant. The North Carolina product is starting his eighth CFL season, and while he's been to the Grey Cup three times, being on the winning side once (2007 as a back-up) he's 0-2 as a starter.
"It's all about championships and how many rings you end up with and right now I don't have one that I've earned and I've been in two games" said Durant. "The fact I haven't led this team to a championship still haunts me and it's something that fuels my fire each and every year."
He certainly has a lot of weapons. In addition to Simon, there's Weston Dressler, (94 receptions for 1,206 yards and 13 TDs), Chris Getzlaf (65-864 and two scores), Greg Carr and Kierrie Johnson ready to burn defenders. Second-year tailback Korrie Sheets should be the starter, after a season that saw him rack up 1,277 yards on 229 carries and 11 forays into the end zone.
The offensive line suffered a blow this week, when starting right tackle Patrick Neufeld broke his right fibula, and will miss 4-to-6 weeks. Still, they have loads of experience with last year's first-overall draft pick Ben Heenan, Chris Best, Dominic Picard among the other starters.
The Riders hope to mirror the success of the last two Grey Cups, which were hosted and won by the home teams: Toronto in 2012, and British Columbia in 2011. Having the Riders play in a Grey Cup game at home, would make it the craziest, most frenzied Grey Cup ever. Will they succeed?
The journey to the championship game will be fun to watch even though my head says...no.
FACTS & FIGURES: Division: West. 2012 record 8-10, third place; playoff result: lost West semi-final, 36-30 to Calgary; Stadium: Mosaic Stadium. Capacity -- 32,848. Colors: Green and White.
06/12 15:41:59 ET
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