Bishop ready for Roughriders debut

Michael Bishop's efforts to learn the offensive system of the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be on display for the first time on Sunday when the Roughriders meet their rivals, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in Regina.

Since arriving in Saskatchewan, Michael Bishop has been the first quarterback in the Roughriders locker room and has stayed late after every practice.

His efforts to learn the offensive system of his new team will be on display for the first time Sunday when the Roughriders meet their rivals, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in Regina.

Bishop was traded by the Toronto Argonauts on Aug. 23 for a conditional pick in the 2011 CFL draft.

"It's been crazy but it's been fun, because in practice, you go in and go through all the reps and you try to make all the throws and when you step on the game field, everything slows down," said Bishop.

"The crowd is loud but you block everything out and you just play ball. And I'm going to get the opportunity [Sunday] to just go out and play ball."

Bishop backed up Damon Allen and Kerry Joseph during his time in Toronto, but expected to be named the starter in 2008 after being signed to a contract extension through 2010.

In March, the Argos acquired Joseph from the Roughriders, giving Toronto two starters and dashing Bishop's hopes of leading the team.

Crandell released Thursday

Saskatchewan (6-2) released quarterback Marcus Crandell on Thursday. In five games, Crandell threw for 924 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

But injuries to the Roughriders offence prompted the team to acquire Bishop, a more mobile passer with a stronger arm.

The team is confident in the decision. "[Bishop] is just fitting into the mold that I expected from him," said Roughriders head coach Ken Miller.

"He has shown the ability and inclination to step in and be a leader. He has worked very hard at picking up the offence. He has been good on the field athletically, mentally and emotionally — so he's done the things that I hoped he would do."

Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry has admitted the Bombers will have to adjust their approach if they hope to spoil Bishop's debut.

"Michael brings different qualities to the game," Berry said. "He's certainly a more mobile quarterback than Marcus Crandell would have been.

"He probably has the strongest arm in the CFL and he's a proven winner and he knows how to win football games."

Saskatchewan running back Wes Cates is hoping that the changes to Winnipeg's game plan will create opportunities.

"With Bishop in there, they're definitely going to have to stay honest and assign somebody to him," said Cates, the league's leading rusher with 729 yards. "So yeah, it should open up some lanes for me."

With files from the Canadian Press