The Saskatchewan Roughriders begin another quest for the Grey Cup on Sunday as the team celebrates its 100th anniversary.
The exhibition game, against the B.C. Lions, begins at 3:00 p.m. CST at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.
"You need that first hit," quarterback Darian Durant said Saturday. "When you haven't been tackled or anything for about six months, the first hit always wakes you up. You realize it's live. After that first hit I'm sure everybody will be good."
Durant added that he is looking forward to testing play patterns in real game situations.
"I mean you're out here [on the practice field], and you throw touchdowns all week," Durant said. "But it's when you have to open up and a guy hits you in your ribs, or your head hits the ground — those are the type of situations that you have to get used to."
Rider coach Ken Miller said players have been chomping at the bit, in anticipation of the first game.
"We've practised well, but the men are starting to get edgy a little bit too," Miller said. "They're starting to snarl at each other, so it's time for us to play."
Miller added that the coaching staff will take advantage of the exhibition games to evaluate newcomers.
"Our veterans are not going to play very much," Miller predicted. "We've had some that have had little nagging pulls that won't play at all. Certainly our veterans are going to play a limited amount. This is an opportunity for our young players to get out and demonstrate what they can do, so we can evaluate them properly."
Cole Bergquist, who was on the practice roster last season, is hoping for a shot at second-string quarterback this year.
"I've worked pretty hard this off-season thinking about this first pre-season game," Bergquist said, calling the exhibition game a "chance to shine and show my coaches and teammates what I can do out here."
The team, founded in 1910 as the Regina Rugby Club, changed its name in 1924 to the Regina Roughriders and in 1948 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.