While Head Coach Corey Chamblin says the penciled in starting lineup will play into the third quarter against the Stampeders, he’s still undecided on how the team will handle the running back rotation.
The job to carry the load in the Riders backfield is still wide open going into the final audition.
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With Wes Cates’ contract not renewed in the off-season the team decided, younger and faster was the way to go at tailback.
“That was probably one of the first things I talked with Corey about when he asked me if I’d be interested in the position,” said first-year offensive coordinator Bob Dyce.
“I feel the offensive line and the run game set the tempo for your team and sets the mentality of your offense. We wanted to make sure we were physical and to establish the run to be a dominant offence.”
But giving up on Cates wasn’t an easy decision for the Riders. He had already climbed to second spot in most rushing categories in team history, trailing only George Reed.
“Wes was a true pro, not only did he take the run game seriously but he was a student of the game. He knew all his protections. Very seldom would you see Wes have a protection error and he had great skills as a receiver. So when you have a back with those sorts of skills and always treated things professionally and always stayed in top shape, that is what allowed Wes to play as long as he did”
Cates’ legacy lives on in his back-up last season, Brandon West, who is the front runner to start for the Riders season opener against Hamilton.
“I talked with Wes during this off-season and he told me don’t be worried about them bringing in backs and things like that. He told me to just focus because he told me I have talent there and I just need to get in the playbook. I need to grow on what I already know and that’s a big step,” explained West after one of the team’s final training camp practices.
“Wes taught me how to block, taught me how to stick my head in there. With me being small I always wanted to cut (block) and this year I pretty much stand up and I like that because it brings the enthusiasm (to show) the coaches because they say ‘you a little man but you bring a thump.’ ”
Jamie Nye bleeds green and is the Roughrider insider for News Talk 980 CJME Regina and News Talk 650 CKOM Saskatoon. All of his Rider coverage can be found at www.GreenZoneFootball.com and you can follow him on Twitter @JamieNye.