Mitchell Blair | Riderville.com Staff
When a team wins just five games in a season, many questions are asked. One question Saskatchewan Roughriders fans had after a dismal 2011 was whether or not the presence of Canadian wideout Rob Bagg or import defensive lineman Brent Hawkins would have helped.
Both men, while members of the team, did not play a down last season due to injury as Bagg was rehabbing from a knee injury suffered late in the 2010 campaign while Hawkins was battling a shoulder injury that he sustained during training camp.
“I feel great!” Hawkins proclaimed. “I don’t have any worries and I feel as if I’m probably in the best shape of my career. I’m ready to go and hopefully be a part of a championship season.”
The Riders have been without impact defensive ends since John Chick and Stevie Baggs left a few seasons ago and it was hoped Hawkins could fill the void. He made people take notice in 2010 when he recorded three sacks in 13 games, but he was unable to make any progress on that season because of the shoulder injury. The 28-year-old comes back to camp this year knowing he has to earn a starting position, but not feeling the pressure of perhaps having to be an impact guy.
“I don’t feel a lot of pressure,” Hawkins said. “The coaches know what I can do and I showed that to them during mini-camp. Defensive line coach Mike Walker came up to me and said he thought I might be a little rusty, but I seem to be as fast as I always was. That was a great confidence boost for me as it gives me a little extra incentive.”