Lenius calm, ready to make season debut at TDA

Brayden Lenius didn’t play in last year’s Touchdown Atlantic game.

He actually wasn’t even on the Roughriders roster at the time, as he signed with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons earlier that year.

But that didn’t stop the Riders receiver from tuning into the game at Wolfville’s Acadia University on July 16 anyways.

“I was watching it on my iPad in my hotel room,” Lenius said after a hot, final team walkthrough at Huskies Stadium on Friday afternoon.

“I was just excited for the boys, but it’s a little different now that I get to be here, be in that atmosphere. It’s my first game back this season so it means that much more to be here.”

» Preview: Argos, Riders battle in Touchdown Atlantic
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» Through the Lens: Roughriders arrive in Halifax for TDA
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» From the Editor’s Desk: See you in Halifax, Week 8!


The six-foot-five, 220-pound pass-catcher was waived by the Falcons a few weeks after his Roughriders set sail out East last year for the game on July 28, just missing the big party.

The timing was a little off to make the game last year, but this year? It’s perfect. He’s made the trip to the coast and he’s coming off the injured list to make his season debut at Huskies Stadium at Saint Mary’s University on Saturday.

Lenius had been recovering from a lacerated kidney he suffered in the preseason game against Winnipeg. He said he was hit by a defender’s elbow in exactly the right spot to cause an injury to his kidney. He didn’t initially think it was anything serious, just that the wind was knocked out of him. It wasn’t until after the game and that’s when he realized something was wrong. He went to the hospital and had tests and CT scans to determine what had happened and then all the doctor prescribed him to heal was rest.

It was tough, Lenius said, dealing with an injury that he couldn’t actually see externally. He also had to stay mentally prepared while he recovered, watching practices from the sidelines, ensuring to keep his heart rate down so blood wouldn’t pump faster to his kidney, while attending meetings and staying close with his teammates.

He credits those teammates for supporting him along the way to help him stay prepared. And now that the time is finally here for him to make his first start of the season, he’s more than ready to hit the turf.

“I’m calm,” admitted Lenius. “Everybody’s asking you super excited? Are you anxious? I’m like, No, I’m just calm. I’m ready. I’m prepared. And I’m just excited to go play with my brothers. That’s like one of my favourite things, is just looking out and having fun and laughing and making plays and doing all the stuff we get to do out there.”

The 26-year-old played in seven games in 2022, hauling in 17 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. He caught 37 passes for 471 yards and four major scores in 2021 and in 2019, his rookie season, was saw just two catches for four yards.

Lenius isn’t the only receiver returning to the lineup this weekend, Jake Wieneke is also making his return since dealing with a knee injury. In three games this year, “TD Jake” caught 20 passes for 27 yards.

He’s known for his scoring and big-play abilities, but according to his teammate, what Wieneke brings to the table is much more than just a reliable set of hands.

“He brings the calmness to a room, he brings the peace,” said Lenius. “That may sound crazy on a football field, calm and peace, but that’s what you need. And he’s such a savvy veteran that has so much knowledge and he’s just he’s just one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in my entire life and playing alongside him has been one of the best things so far.”

Wieneke and Lenius are taking on the undefeated Argos, who are 5-0 to start the 2023 season, giving Mason Fine a pair of veteran targets to throw to in the Riders quarterback’s second start of the season since taking over for an injured Trevor Harris. The duo will be a welcome addition back to the lineup as well, after the Riders failed to score a touchdown last weekend against the BC Lions.

“He has a very special ability and he’s gonna go out there and show it,” Lenius said of his quarterback. “He’s just got to get the confidence right? Last week was his first start of the season under crazy circumstances. That’s a lot to take in as an individual. But it’s professional football and he’s going to take the next step in this game.”

While they await the opening kickoff, Lenius and his Roughriders are just taking in all that Halifax has to offer, including the great hospitality, as they prepare for the excitement on Saturday.

“It’s beautiful out here, everybody’s so nice and welcoming.” he said. “We went to get some food yesterday and everybody just welcomed with us and always given us high fives.

“From what the boys said about last year, it’s an intimate crowd, it’s awesome, it’s loud, and it’s just a really good vibe out here. I’m really excited to play.”

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