For those of you who watch some of the shows that I'm fortunate enough to be a part of on Riderville.com, like our Training Camp shows, and Chalk Talk, you'll know how much Dan Plaster LOVES talking football on any level. In fact, todays Training Camp/Exhibition Game recap comes from the conversation Dan and I had in Regina before we head back up to put to Saskatoon for the final days of the Saskatchewan Roughriders 2015 Training Camp.
By now many of you have made your own assessments of the individual performances during Saturday night’s exhibition game vs. the BC Lions but the overarching theme that Plaster and I discussed was how good the CANADIAN content of this team looked last night.
One of the prevailing themes that most successful organizations in this league adhere to is that in order to win Grey Cups, teams must have the best, or at the very least, a substantial pool of wealth, when it comes to CANADIAN PLAYERS.
Yesterday's first look at the 2016 Saskatchewan Roughriders not only gave fans a glimpse at the CANADIAN talent assembled here in Regina, but I don't know if you guys thought about this or not yesterday, but nobody's missing 1st Round pick Josiah St. John as far as the need for Canadian depth!
I don't want to make it a habit of comparing last year to this year because every CFL season is a different journey and a different set of circumstances and ideologies but right now the Green and White look like they're substantially farther ahead with Canadian talent than they were in 2015.
Here's some Canadian guys that stuck out as Dan Plaster and I contemplated how many Starbucks coffees we could consume without giving ourselves a heart attack…
Before we go deep, we'll lead with the EASY one...The Offensive Line for the Green and White is going to be the STRENGTH of this team. Aside from the Guard-Centre-Guard team of Labatte, Clark, and Best, the addition of Andrew Jones cannot be understated. It's been the development of Aaron Picton that's been awesome to watch. The former Regina Ram has proven that he can hang physically and is willing to take the coaching. With his ability to play all of the interior spots, the Riders now sit pretty with a number of travelling AND injury options at their disposal. Hopefully Picton doesn't have to contribute significant minutes this year, but that's not to say he wouldn't be up to the task. He's looked like a gamer thus far!
As Dan and I sat there today, we scanned the depth chart that the Saskatchewan Roughriders turned into the CFL before the 1stExhibition Game of the year, and it is ripe with NATIONAL talent.
This team has youngsters who have come in and opened some eyes during various stages of Training Camp like Kyle Kawamoto and Draft Pick Josh Stanford, however the Green and White also have Canadians like Rob Bagg and Nic Demski to lead the way while others adjust to the requirements of being a pro.
Matt Walter hasn’t been talked about a whole lot during the early stages of the season but he took advantage of Curtis Steele getting the day off and ran the bell incredibly well during the 1sthalf of the Lions game.
One won’t find a better example of how valuable QUALITY Canadian players are to a 42-man roster than the one that exists at that Running Back depth chart.
It seems to have slipped some people’s minds that Reaves and Kalongi Kashama are simply an added BONUS when one considers that Justin Cappiciotti and Dylan Ainsworth haven’t suited up since the Day 2 here in Riderville. That’s a WIN folks.
To conclude this CANADIAN retrospective, I submit item #DB2745…Right now the Saskatchewan Roughriders have been able to get a glimpse at Graig Newman and Matt Webster in spots that neither player has been listed at previously.
The only thing that gave Chris Jones this ability to switch two quality EXPERIENCED Canadians out of their traditional positions was the acquisition of Kevin Francis, and Troy Adams. Both of these players, especially Francis, look to be guys that are going to be able to contribute in all phases of the game during 2016.
To have a rotation of 4 NATIONAL players in the defensive backfield that are all capable of making plays is something that the Roughriders were not able to honestly say last year, and it simply underscores the fact that this team looks like it has taken a significant step forward in the Canadian department.