Cut-down day is devastating for the players that don’t make the team, but it’s not a walk in the park either for the management and coaching staff for any team.
For the Roughriders, 26 players got the news they weren’t good enough to make the final 46-man roster.
“We had some tough decisions,” admitted General Manager Brendan Taman to reporters on Sunday.
“After the game we had to play out a few things on the scenarios but it’s still a work in progress to be honest with you.”
NAT receiver Alex Anthony
10 players cut on Saturday night do have a chance to crack the team’s practice roster, which won’t be officially unveiled until Tuesday.
As for the toughest decision, Taman pegged the fight between outside linebacker Brandon Isaac and defensive back Mark LeGree.
Isaac, the veteran, was told Saturday night he was once again going to be looking for work.
The Riders had much bigger battles on their hands to fill some major holes with the departures of Kory Sheets, Weston Dressler, Geroy Simon, Keith Shologan, Craig Butler and Rey Williams.
At running back, the release of Jermaine Thomas gives Keith Toston and Anthony Allen the chance to continue to fight for starting reps in the Riders offence. Toston ran hard and heavy in both pre-season games and actually came from fourth on the depth chart to possibly the opening day starter against Hamilton.
“Jermaine struggled. He wasn’t what we thought we were going to see back in mini-camp and his Florida State days.”
It’s the beauty of the pre-season. When the lights come on, you show that you’re a ‘gamer’ while your practice tape may be less than impressive.
Although, Taman did point out they still have some questions about the running back spot. The audition continues into the regular season for Toston and Allen.
The audition also continues for those trying to fill the big holes in the defensive interior.
Trevor Guyton and Derek Walker beat out a second year veteran Richard Sumlin. Guyton and Walker both moved up the depth chart because of their play in the pre-season but Taman does peg the tackles as a position they need to figure out.
Of course there were some draw dropping moves made around the league with some well known veterans, and well known names across the league.
The receiver Jamel Richardson is of interest to the fans in Saskatchewan, who have seen him be quite successful against the Riders, with whom he started his career.
But Taman notes Chaz Schilens, Brett Swain, Ryan Smith and Eron Riley have all impressed the staff to feel comfortable going into the season to play along side Chris Getzlaf, Taj Smith and Rob Bagg.
Another impressive player, who tweeted his jubilation about making the receiving corps was 18th overall pick Alex Pierzchalski.
The University of Toronto product played well enough, not only at receiver, but special teams to knock two veterans off a CFL roster.
Jordan Sisco and Jade Etienne, who were the 8th overall pick in 2010 and 4th overall in 2011, got bad news on cut down day.
Bagg also used Twitter to tell Rider Nation how hard Sisco worked over the last four years and his disappointment his now former teammate never got to show his skill.
The Riders may also be looking for a middle linebacker after the pre-season. And it’s not because nobody showed the ability to play at the spot. Chad Kilgore was very impressive and supplanted himself as the starter.
One problem, as Taman pointed out, with the pre-season is injuries. Kilgore will now have to spend the first six-games on the injured list with a broken thumb.
The Riders GM and his team of scouts will now go back to work. The departures of so many champions left Taman with a lot of work over the off-season and after a month of evaluating their talent, the GM says some work still needs to be done.
“There are still some problems we need to work through so we’re not content by no means. We’re always going to be looking to try to upgrade so we’ll continue to do that but no we’re not sitting here with a perfect 46 by no means.”
It’s a message that needs to be sent to a team trying to repeat. You may have won a job after training camp, but now the toughest thing to do is keep it.
Jamie Nye lives and breathes the CFL and is the host of 'The Green Zone' on 980 CJME in Regina and 650 CKOM in Saskatoon. You can find his podcasts and blogs at greenzonefootball.com and follow him on twitter @jamienye