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Assessing the Roughriders Roster Ahead Of The 2024 Season

The CFL season is finally here! There will now be Canadian football all the way until late November when the 111th Grey Cup will be handed out at BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia. How sweet it is.

Of course, to start any season there is training camp, preseason, and final cuts, all of which have now been completed. This article will serve as an overview of where the Saskatchewan Roughriders are at to begin the 2024 campaign and some storylines to watch out for heading into the season.

To begin, the Roughriders announced their final 21 cuts heading into the regular season, as well as adding 13 additional players to the practice squad.

Final Cuts:

QB Mason Fine, QB Antonio Pipkin, FB Morgen Runge, WR Brayden Lenius, WR Geronimo Allison, WR D’Sean Mimbs, WR Kalija Lipscomb, WR Jake Parker, OL Jordan Tucker, OL Evan Floren, DL Sidney Houston Jr., DL Tre’ Crawford, DL R.J. McIntosh, LB Diego Fagot, LB T.J. Brunson, LB Nick Thomas, DB Nicario Harper, DB Richard Aduboffour, DB C.J. Coldon, DB Katley Joseph, DB Eric Smith

Practice Squad:

RB Frankie Hickson, WR Joe Robustelli, Dohnte Meyers, OL Daniel Johnson, OL Jacob Brammer, OL Zack Fry, DL Caleb Sanders, DL Habakkuk Baldonado, LB Zakoby McClain, LB Jordan Herdman-Reed, LB Stephen Smith, DB Antoine Brooks Jr., P Joe Couch

There were some notable cuts that the Roughriders made including quarterback Mason Fine. The 27-year-old signed a two-year contract extension this past offseason after going 1-3 as a starter last year. Brayden Lenius was also released from the team during the final cuts. The also 27-year-old has struggled to stay healthy over the past two seasons (lacerated kidney) and was not healthy throughout training camp. Receiver Geronimo Allison, offensive lineman Evan Floren, defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh, linebacker Diego Fagot, and defensive back C.J. Coldon all had good camps but did not make the final roster.

Now let’s take a look at the players who did make the final cut.

Quarterback: Trevor Harris, Shea Patterson, Jack Coan

The biggest storyline in the quarterback room is Shea Patterson winning the backup job behind Trevor Harris. The 27-year-old Patterson had an excellent preseason completing 8/11 passes for 132 yards while throwing a touchdown and not throwing an interception.

He’ll back up Harris who will enter his age 38-year-old season. The starter will look to stay healthy after only playing in five games in 2023 and spending time on the six-game injured list in three of the last four years.

Rookie Jack Coan will start the year as the third-string QB. The 25-year-old joins the Riders after spending time with the Indianapolis Colts, following an accomplished college career at Wisconsin and Notre Dame.

Running Back / Full back: AJ Ouellette, Clint Ratkovich, Bruno LaBelle, Thomas Bertand-Hudon, Frankie Hickson*

* = practice squad

Free agent signing AJ Ouellette figures to get the bulk of the carries for the Green and White and deservingly so. With the Toronto Argonauts last season the 5-foot-9, 210-pound back rushed for 1,009 yards and eight touchdowns en route to being named an East Division All-Star.

Second year Canadian Thomas Bertrand-Hudon and veteran Frankie Hickson will be the reserves, with the 27-year-old American Hickson beginning on the practice squad. In his rookie season, Bertrand-Hudon dressed in all 18 games rushing for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

Veteran and Montreal, Quebec native Bruno LaBelle started at fullback for 14 games last season, while rookie American swiss army knife Clint Ratkovich has seen reps at fullback, running back, and receiver throughout preseason following a good camp.

Receiver: Shawn Bane Jr., Sam Emilus, Kian Schaffer-Baker, KeeSean Johnson, Jerreth Sterns, Ajou Ajou, Mitch Picton, Dhel Duncan-Busby, Joe Robustelli*, Dohnte Meyers*

* = practice squad

The receiving room is led by breakout slotbacks in American Shawn Bane Jr. and Canadian Sam Emilus. The pair exploded onto the scene in 2023 each recording over 1,000 receiving yards. Starting alongside them in the slot is Kian Schaffer-Baker. The fourth-year Canadian will start the season healthy after missing the first nine games in 2023 with a torn labrum. American rookie KeeSean Johnson and veteran Regina native Mitch Picton will start out wide.

The depth begins with Jerreth Sterns who heads into year two with Riderville after catching 44 passes for 449 yards last season. The rest of the core features rookie Nationals Ajou Ajou and Dhel Duncan-Busby. Seventh round rookie Ajou will become only the seventh player selected in the seventh round in franchise history to play in a regular season game following a solid camp. Third-rounder Duncan-Busby however, starts the year on the six-game injured list with a hand injury.

Starting the year on the practice squad will be American Rookies Joe Robustelli and Dohnte Meyers.

Offensive Line: Jermarcus Hardrick, Trevor Reid, Peter Godber, Philip Blake, Logan Ferland, Ryan Sceviour, Noah Zerr, Jacob Brammer*, Daniel Johnson*, Zack Fry*

* = practice squad

General Manager Jeremy O’Day made a big splash in free agency to signing the likes of 6-foot-5, 317-pound tackle Jermarcus Hardrick, making him the highest paid American offensive lineman in the process. Opposite of the stalwart will be 24-year-old Trevor Reid, who won the open left tackle spot following camp. The American rookie has spent time with both the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons.

On the interior, considered one of the league’s best centres Peter Godber enters year two with the Green and White. The 29-year-old started in all 15 games he was available for in 2023. At guard it will be the 38-year-old Philip Blake on the left and Saskatchewan’s reigning lineman of the year nominee Logan Ferland on the right. Blake will start this year healthy after missing the first 12 games of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, while Ferland enters his fifth year with the team.

O’Day also brought some National depth to the “land of the living skies” in Ryan Sceviour and Noah Zerr. The 28-year-old Sceviour was named a West Division All-Star with the Calgary Stampeders in 2022, while the 6-foot-7, 330-pound Zerr spent 2023 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. On the practice squad will be rookie American tackle Jacob Brammer and Nationals in rookie Daniel Johnson and second-year man Zack Fry.

Defensive Line: Anthony Lanier II, Micah Johnson, Malik Carney, Bryan Cox Jr., Christian Albright, Miles Brown, Lake Korte-Moore, Charbel Dabire, Nicholas Dheilly, Habakkuk Baldonado*, Caleb Sanders

* = practice squad

On the interior of the defensive line Micah Johnson and Anthony Lanier II are back in the Green and White for the 2024 campaign. The 35-year old Johnson registered 27 tackles and five sacks in 2023, while the 6-foot-6, 281-pound Lanier II collected 19 tackles and five sacks last season. Veterans American Miles Brown and Canadian Charbel Dabire provide great depth on the inside as they enter year three and five respectively.

The edges will be manned by incumbent Malik Carney and son of three-time NFL pro bowler Bryan Cox, Bryan Cox Jr. The 28-year-old Carney played in 17 games for Hamilton in 2023 recording 52 tackles and five sacks, while the 29-year-old Cox enters year two as a Rider. Last year’s third overall pick Lake Korte-Moore is back for his second year as a pro, as is 25-year-old Christian Albright. Regina native Nicholas Dheilly is also back in the Green and White for year number three in Riderville.

Global edge defender Habakkuk Baldonado and first year defensive tackle Caleb Sanders start the year on the practice squad.

Linebacker: Jameer Thurman, Adam Auclair, C.J. Avery, Melique Straker, A.J. Allen, Justin Herdman-Reed, C.J. Reavis, Rodney Clemons, Nick Wiebe, Zakoby McClain*, Jordan Herdman-Reed*, Stephen Smith*

* = practice squad

Another major offseason acquisition highlights a position group, this time with Jameer Thurman. Saskatchewan made the 29-year-old the fourth highest paid linebacker in the league after recording a career high in tackles (97) and sacks (5), while nabbing two interceptions for the Tiger-Cats in 2023. Penciled in as the starter on the weak-side is Saint George, Quebec native Adam Auclair, who has spent the entirety of his three year pro career with the Redblacks.

C.J. Reavis starts on the strong-side following a breakout 2023 campaign when he tallied 65 tackles, three sacks, one interception, and forced three fumbles. The 28-year-old will be backed up by second-year man Rodney Clemons, who recorded eight tackles and one sack across the preseason. Nationals Justin Herdman-Reed and A.J. Allen are back with Saskatchewan for their fourth and third years respectively. They’ll be joined by C.J. Avery who was let go by the Montreal Alouettes before camp opened and fourth-round rookie in Arkansas State product Melique Straker.

First year American Zakoby McClain, twin of Justin Herdman-Reed in Jordan Herdman-Reed, and Regina Thunder product Stephen Smith man the practice squad. Also, second round pick Nick Wiebe starts the year on the six-game injury list recovering from an ACL tear suffered in the Hardy Cup Playoffs last November.

Defensive Back: Jayden Dalke, Jaxon Ford, Rolan Milligan Jr., Amari Henderson, Marcus Sayles, Deontai Williams, Nelson Lokombo, DaMarcus Fields, Kosi Onyeka, Godfrey Onyeka, Antoine Brooks Jr.*

* = practice squad

Once again it will be Jayden Dalke as Saskatchewan’s starting safety. The 27-year-old is coming off of a a breakout season where he recorded 41 tackles and an interception. At halfback it will be veterans Rolan Milligan Jr. and Amari Henderson. The 26-year-old Henderson recorded 45 tackles last season starting in all 18 games, while the 29-year-old Milligan Jr. suffered a season-ending toe injury after only four contests in 2023. On the corners, the starters throughout camp have been second year American Deontai Williams and former second overall pick Nelson Lokombo.

Marcus Sayles was a late addition to the Riders after getting cut by the B.C. Lions after training camp. The 29-year-old was named a CFL All-Star in 2022, as well as a West Division All-Star in 2019. Rounding out the defensive backfield will be Canadian cousins Kosi Onyeka and Godfrey Onyeka, as well as the 26-year-old American rookie DaMarcus Fields.

Second year safety Jaxon Ford starts the year on the six-game recovering from wrist surgery, while preseason standout Antoine Brooks Jr. begins on the practice squad.

Special Teams: Brett Lauther, Adam Korsak, Mario Alford, Jorgen Hus, Joe Couch*

* = practice squad

It will be a different year but same special teams unit for Saskatchewan in 2024. Kicker Brett Lauther joins the Riders for his sixth season wearing the Green and White. Second year Global punter Adam Korsak is back after a breakout first year when he was named a West Division All-Star and averaged the second most yards per punt in franchise history (47.6), while rookie Global punter Joe Couch starts the year on the practice squad.

The longest tenured Rider heads into year nine with the club in Saskatoon native Jorgen Hus handling the long snapping. Veteran return man Mario Alford is also back in the fold following back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

The Roughriders will open up the 2024 campaign on Saturday, June 8 in Edmonton.

author avatar
Coty Wiles
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. r korytniak

    June 7, 2024 at 9:23 pm

    Where are the back-up wide recievers on the practice squad?

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