Roughriders limp into Hamilton
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are the CFL's only perfect team this season, but perfection has come at a price.
Starting quarterback Marcus Crandell (hamstring), top receiver D.J. Flick (broken ankle) and defensive back Mitchell (broken leg) were injured in last weekend's 26-16 victory over the B.C. Lions, a result that pushed the Roughriders record to 2-0.
Saskatchewan will be minus all three players when it takes on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Saturday (4 p.m. ET).
With Crandell out, third-string quarterback Darian Durant will make his first CFL start on Saturday. Durant earned the starting role after his performance against the Lions when he relieved backup Stephen Jyles, who threw two interceptions after coming on in place on Crandell.
Durant's statistics in the game were far from impressive (5-for-11 passing for 56 yards), but the coaching staff and his teammates were impressed by his composure.
"[Durant is] a very disciplined person who understands our offence as well as anyone," Saskatchewan coach Ken Miller told the Globe and Mail. "He's calm, collected, and he just executed. I expect his game management this week to be very much the same.
"One reason for the decision to start him this week was the feedback from the players on how he conducted himself on the field and in the huddle and the leadership he showed," the coach said. "The fact that he did that so well was a compelling reason to have him do it again."
Earlier this week, the Roughriders acquired receiver T.J. Acree in a trade with the Toronto Argos for defensive lineman Ron Flemons.
'Outstanding route runner'
Acree will fill in for Flick, who led all Riders receivers last year in catches (70), yards (1,020) and touchdowns (10).
"What happened with D.J. Flick's injury was so unfortunate, but acquiring T.J. gives us another quality option as we go forward," said Riders GM Eric Tillman. "We've watched him very closely the two previous seasons in our division and we're very happy to add him to our mix.
"T.J. is very smart, so he can learn multiple spots in our receiving rotation, and he's an outstanding route runner."
The Tiger-Cats (1-1) earned their first win of the season with a convincing 32-13 win over the Argos last week.
Quarterback Casey Printers completed 16-of-23 passes for 171 yards and he also ran eight times for 32 yards and two touchdowns. Canadian running back Jesse Lumsden also had a strong game, rushing for 189 yards and scoring two touchdowns.
In total, Hamilton rushed for 311 yards against Toronto, but it could find it tough to run the ball against Saskatchewan, which boasts the CFL's best defence. The Tiger-Cats will need another solid effort from their unheralded offensive line if they have any hope of moving the ball on the ground.
"Offensively I think we're moving in the right direction," coach Charlie Taaffe told the Ticats' official website
"Last week, we were able to run the football with the offensive line really jelling and Jesse of course back in full form now. I wouldn't say we've shocked the world yet at this point with our passing game, but we are managing the offence and being efficient at what we're doing."