July 5, 2014

Durant, Riders welcome to road test


Mitchell Blair | Riderville.com

TORONTO — Darian Durant knows when he takes the field at Rogers Centre he will have much better conditions to play in then he has when he has touched the football so far in 2014.  Miserable weather in southern Saskatchewan has meant Durant has had to play his first regular season game and two exhibition contests in cool, wet and windy weather.

That won’t be the case Saturday as the Riders will be at Rogers Centre in Toronto meaning either the roof closed and ideal conditions or the roof being open meaning it should be a nice summer day.

Regardless of the weather, the Riders quarterback is just ready to get his team back on the field and carry the momentum gained from Week 1’s lopsided win over Hamilton.

“That first road trip of the year is always fun.” Durant said. “We know a lot of Rider Nation will be behind us, but we know it’s a great team we’re facing so we have to be on the top of our game. It’s a trip where you can start building relationships with players new on the team and build those relationships off the field.

Durant won’t have receiver Chaz Schilens at his disposal for this game. Schilens suffered a hand injury in the victory over Hamilton while Chris Getzlaf may miss the contest due to a lingering lower-body injury that has plagued him since training camp.  It means 2nd year receiver Eron Riley will have to stand up and try to contribute. Durant is confident he can make a play if called upon.

“He’s a guy who’s been here and he knows the system,” Durant stated. “He played in some big games last year and if his number is called, I know he will be ready.”

On the other side of the ball, the Riders defense is a happy bunch after pitching a near shutout against the Tiger-Cats. However, they are fully aware Ricky Ray will be under center this week and that they have to be ready to play or else.

“I doubt as if we will have 10 sacks like we had last week, but we will certainly be ready for whatever Toronto throws at us.” Defensive co-ordinator Richie Hall said. “They are a different looking team without Chad Kackert in there because he was a guy that just went downhill and played power football.  What they have now is a different type of back so we just wait to see what he can do.  At the end of the day, it is still trying to stop what Ricky wants to do and when he gets on a roll he is lethal.” Hall says it will be very important for his defensive backs to keep the Argo receivers under control.

“Ricky will sit back and challenge us vertically. We have to be able to work in unison with our front and back end just because of the caliber of player that he is.” Hall said. “We have to find a way to disrupt what he wants to do. We know we have our work cut out for us.”

As strong as the Rider “D” was in the opening week win over Hamilton, Hall says it was far from perfect and there are some areas he wants to see improvement in when they take the field this week.

“We want to lead the league in takeaways and we only had two on Sunday, “Hall commented. “We also want to make teams earn their points and I thought we weren’t consistent with our energy. I want to see a better effort when it comes to that too.”