- Free Agency
If it were any other time in the game, the image would have hushed the 32,003 on hand at Mosaic Stadium.
Quarterback Darian Durant, getting up from a sack, taking a few steps and then falling back to the field, while teammates, opponents and officials quickly motioned towards the trainers.
|Home for a rest?|
“It’s the normal nicks and bruises that you’re going to have in Week 18. The good thing about football is you have a week in between games. The closer we get to game day the better I feel. It’s not just for me, we got key guys that are hurting.”
Instead, most fans already had their backs turned, heading to the exits as all this occurred on the field after the last play of Saturday’s game against Montreal.
The result? A minor shin contusion, a re-aggravation of an injury Durant suffered earlier this season.
The injury proved to be a minor one, as Durant was back on the practice field this week and will be under centre when he and his teammates host the Argonauts on Saturday.
However, as has been the trend for the better part of the season, rookie head coach Corey Chamblin will have yet another tough decision to deal with, as he prepares to lead the Riders into the post-season.
Should Chamblin consider resting some regulars who could use a week or two off to heal their sore limbs, joints and muscles?
“We already have a plan in place. As far as the changes, we’ll still practice the same as we practice but as far as guys playing and their playing time, some of those things will be adjusted but not this game.”
So it’s full throttle against the Argonauts, but it’s clear getting some R&R for Durant may be top of mind.
The quarterback and coach met one on one Monday, and Durant admits Chamblin is conscious of the fact his number-one quarterback is a little beat up.
“In talking to (Chamblin) I think he’s going to look out for me a little bit,” said Durant.
“It’s the normal nicks and bruises that you’re going to have in Week 18. The good thing about football is you have a week in between games. The closer we get to game day the better I feel. It’s not just for me, we got key guys that are hurting, (Chris Getzlaf) is banged up, and pretty sure (Weston Dressler) can use a little rest although he would say he doesn’t need it.”
Chamblin has watched other coaches handle this exact scenario as an assistant with Winnipeg, Calgary and Hamilton and is drawing on that experience to come up with his own philosophy in his first venture as the head coach.
“I’ve been on several teams and you can do it several different ways. Some people say you can get hurt, well you can get hurt on any given play. We have to make sure that we’re smart about the things that we do and we continue to play good football.”
The fact is, however, that the less plays you let your starters play, you drastically reduce the odds those players will get injured in the final two games.
But there is that other intangible that needs to be considered; a two-game losing streak.
The Roughriders have already been down this path with a five game slide and everybody knows another one of those will result in a quick exit in the playoffs.
Chamblin is stressing that point in preparation for their final home game.
“We have to finish the season. We’ve clinched the playoffs, which is a good thing, but there’s still some things left out there like the timing of the offence. It’s not the time to let off.”
What do they have to work on after 16 games and an 8-8 record?
Durant admits it’s nothing major but the work still needs to be done to make sure they’re set to try to get to their fourth Grey Cup game in six seasons.
“We just want to make sure we clean up some of the areas that we’ve been struggling in. Make sure that whatever we were doing on that little win streak that we went on that we can get back to that.”
“This is the time you want to put everything together and make sure everything is rolling going into the playoffs. We have a couple of tune-up games here to make sure that we can clean up all the mistakes and things like that and hit the playoffs running.”
Like, Chamblin, Durant has been down this road before and acknowledges there is likely no right way; you just have to put a plan in place and hope it pays off.
“It’s a tough situation. In 2009 we had the bye and in 2010 we didn’t and we got the same result so I guess it just depends on what you believe in, how coach feels.”
“If the main thing is getting your key guys healthy then resting is good.”
While it’s clear Durant will play all or most of this week’s game, next week against B.C. to finish off the season is an entirely different story.