Taj Smith back on practice field after breaching conditions
Beleaguered Roughrider receiver Taj Smith was back on the practice field Tuesday, after being forced to sit out last Thursday's game.
"As a father, as a brother, a teammate, a player, it was tough and I never want to put myself in that position again and I am just grateful I am back on the team," Smith told reporters Tuesday at practice.
Smith was picked up by Gatineau, Que. police last week after he allegedly visited a strip club, which is a breach of his court conditions. At the time, the club was training in the area.
The team says Smith was forced to sit out last Thursday's game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers because they couldn't find him the day after he was picked up by police.
"He wasn't at our meeting and he wasn't at practice and we were worried about his well-being," said Brendan Taman, general manager for the Riders.
On Tuesday, while speaking with reporters, Smith expressed remorse and apologized to his team.
"I tell them that I apologize for being a distraction on the team. I just really desire to play football. I apologize for that," said Smith.
Smith was charged with aggravated assault last August after he and teammate Dwight Anderson allegedly beat a man outside of a Regina nightclub.
Head Coach Corey Chamblin says even though Smith is back playing with the team, he still has to earn their trust.
"When somebody steps back, they have to earn that trust again. He knows that and they all understand that. You can't put yourself in that situation. I am trusting your actions more than your words. So he knows what he has to do to earn that trust back," said Chamblin.
Team Quarterback Darian Durant told reporters the players support Smith.
"We just make sure he knows that we have his back. Regardless, he is our brother," said Durant. "Everyone does some things in their lifetime that they regret from time to time. And we just take it like that and realize we know the type of person Taj is. We know what kind of heart he has,' said Durant.
Smith will be on the roster for this week's game, but how much he plays is known only to the coaching staff.