SASKATOON — The pre-season has arrived for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The CFL team is to play its first exhibition game Sunday (3 p.m., TSN, CKRM) against the host Edmonton Eskimos. Both teams will be using the game to evaluate their new talent, which usually means spasms of sloppy football.
Even so, the pre-season is a time when new players can impress coaches and unseat veterans and for other vets to cement their roster spots.
Here’s one man’s list of five people (or things) to watch during Sunday’s game. They appear in no particular order.
1. 3, 4 and 5: It’s still unclear which quarterback fills which spot on the roster, so the play of B.J. Daniels, David Watford and Marquise Williams during this game could help decide the final order behind Zach Collaros and Brandon Bridge. Watford has looked sharp in camp, displaying a strong arm and an ability to move around inside and outside the pocket. Williams has experience with the Roughriders, having attended their training camp in 2017 and having been with them throughout the season. Daniels has shown flashes during camp of being the dual-threat quarterback he was at South Florida, but he has to display more consistency throwing the ball than he did during the first week of camp.
2. Terran Vaughn: The only rookie among the starters on the Roughriders’ offensive line hasn’t looked out of place in camp, but he isn’t resting on his laurels. Although he has taken more snaps with the starters than Takoby Cofield, Vaughn is well aware that he can’t get complacent. He has shown the mobility and footwork necessary to play left tackle in the CFL, plus he has the benefit of working beside veteran left guard Brendon LaBatte. But Vaughn is well aware that one missed assignment could lead to a blind-side hit on the quarterback — and that can’t happen.
3. Marc-Olivier Brouillette: The veteran safety could be a busy man Sunday. With starter Mike Edem among the scratches, Brouillette likely will start in the middle of the secondary — and he’ll be surrounded almost exclusively by rookies. Second-year CFLer Chris Lyles is expected to play, but the rest of the DBs are all CFL newcomers. Jeremy Cutrer, Daniel Davie, Orlandus Harris, Rudy Johnson, Nick Marshall and Tyrell Robinson are expected to play the other positions in the secondary in the absences of Crezdon Butler, Ed Gainey and Jovon Johnson. Brouillette has been very good through the first week of camp, breaking on the ball well and getting his hands on a few passes.
4. Makana Henry: The third-year Roughrider has been one of the best defensive linemen in camp, using his power and strength to defeat some of the team’s best O-linemen in one-on-one drills. Henry has come a long way from the raw defensive tackle he was when he joined the Roughriders in 2016. He has learned how to do more than just bull-rush offensive linemen, throwing in moves he has picked up from his veteran teammates and from defensive line coach Ed Philion en route to becoming a more dangerous pass-rusher.
5. Brett Lauther: With Tyler Crapigna nursing a nagging injury, Lauther has been handling the kicking duties during camp. This is his third go-round with the Roughriders, who also signed him in September of 2015 and in August of 2017. The 27-year-old has displayed a strong leg in camp, but consistency has been an issue in his career — evidenced by the fact he has made only six of 10 field-goal attempts in regular-season action. Crapigna should be back soon, so this game might be Lauther’s best opportunity to earn a job as the backup.