Roughriders take practice on the road as they hope for win in Edmonton

Because of the Guns N' Roses setup at the stadium, the Roughriders have been forced to take practice on the road this week — which is good, because they need all the "road practice" they can get.

Guns N' Roses show forces team back to practice field at old stadium

The Roughriders are preparing to face the Eskimos in Edmonton this Friday night. (Glenn Reid/CBC News)

The Saskatchewan Roughriders play this Friday in Edmonton, where they hope to find that elusive road victory. 

Because of the setup for this Sunday's Guns N' Roses concert at the stadium, they've been forced to take practice on the road this week — which is good, because they need all the "road practice" they can get.

They haven't won a game west of Saskatchewan in three years.

They started off the week at Leibel Field on Monday, home of Regina's minor football league, but Chris Jones is an "every minute counts" kind of head coach.

"We just decided to stay a little bit closer. Forty minutes bus time is big for us," Jones said after their Day 3 practice on Wednesday.

So instead of staying at Leibel Field, the players and coaches walked down the street from their locker room in the new Mosaic Stadium to the team's old practice field, adjacent to the old stadium.

It's been quite a few years since the Roughriders required their old grass practice field, but they did on Wednesday. (Glenn Reid/CBC News)

They haven't used this field in 11 years. In fact, quarterback Kevin Glenn is the only present-day Rider who has been on it before.

Practicing on real grass is a novelty for players today.

"Just to get out here and smell that grass, it was a good day out here." said defensive back Ed Gainey.

"It just brought back memories … [of] high school, so it was a good feeling."

Kevin Glenn at a Riders practice on the old grass field in 2001. He is the only present-day Rider who had been on the field before Wednesday. (Glenn Reid/CBC News)

The Roughriders' head coach hopes that "good feeling" carries into Friday's game against the Eskimos.

Even though the practice tempo improved every day this week, Jones says that doesn't necessarily guarantee a great performance in the game.

"Just about when you think you practiced really good, you're all prepared, you will play the worst," said Jones.

Practicing at the old grass football field brought back memories for long-time fans, known as 'rail birds' for watching practice outside the chain-link fence. Some fans don't even get out of their vehicles. (Glenn Reid/CBC News)

"I'll be honest with you, Calgary week, I thought we practiced really well coming off that bye but unfortunately we didn't execute.

"And I've seen just the opposite, you have a terrible Day 3 and Day 2 and you think, 'Man, we may get smoked,' and end up playing well. It's pro football. It comes down to the game and executing."

Owens not likely to play Friday

Chad Owens will likely have to wait at least one more week for his Roughriders debut. (Glenn Reid/CBC)

Jones hasn't officially ruled out wide receiver Chad Owens for this week, but it's doubtful the former CFL Most Outstanding Player will make his Rider debut in Edmonton.

"More than likely not, he's not 100-100 but he's getting close," said Jones.

Owens aggravated a previous foot injury in training camp and has yet to be activated.

"He's a pro's pro. He knows Christion Jones is playing at a real high level of football. If you watch him, he's working with Christion on the sideline. That's what high-character veterans do."

Christion Jones leads the CFL with a 20.6 return average.

Slowly but surely, memories of the old Mosaic Stadium are being peeled away. The sign came down on Wednesday. (Glenn Reid/CBC News)