REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Roughriders targeted last off-season to shoring up their offensive line and as they head into 2013, they are looking for the young unit to come together in their second season beside one another.
Starting centre Dominic Picard will enter his second season with the green and white. The eight year CFL veteran quickly endeared himself to Rider fans through his reliable and aggressive play. The native of Sainte-Foy, Quebec was the Riders nominee as Most Outstanding Canadian and Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
2012 West Division All-Star Brendon Labatte will return for his second season after signing as a free agent a year ago. In his first season with the Riders, the Weyburn, SK product appeared in 16 regular season games and the West Semi-Final at guard. Through his first five CFL seasons, LaBatte has been named a CFL Division All-Star four times and received recognition as a CFL All-Star in 2011.
Seventh year veteran Chris Best is the longest serving member of the team’s offensive line. The Calgary, AB native appeared in 13 regular season games, missing five due to injury, and the West Semi-Final. A natural guard, Best showed his versatility by moving to centre following a mid-season injury to Picard. He was the Riders 2011 nominee as Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman.
Last season’s Riders nominee for Most Outstanding Rookie Xavier Fulton will return for his second season to anchor the left tackle position. Fulton arrived as a relative unknown after being acquired from Edmonton in April. His consistent play quickly garnered the attention of teammates, leading to a well-deserved Rookie nomination. Interestingly, Fulton is the only import listed among offensive linemen.
Regina product Patrick Newufeld recently re-signed, avoiding free agency, and will look to maintain his spot at right tackle. The third year Rider began last season in a back-up role but earned his way into a starting position. With a full active season under his belt, Neufeld should continue to progress giving the Riders another valuable Canadian.
2012 Canadian College Draft first overall selection Ben Heenan had a tremendous debut season. Heenan jumped right into action as an injury replacement and ended playing 15 regular season games, starting 12. The young guard has amazing potential and will continue to develop under the leadership of those around him.
Second year guard Dan Clark, will enter his fourth training camp with the Riders. The Regina product spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons on the team’s practice roster. Last year Clark dressed in seven games as a back-up and will no doubt look to continue his development and challenge for more active duty.
Alexander Krausnick-Groh is scheduled to be a free agent February 15th. The two year Rider was primarily used as a short snapper, appearing in 12 regular season games in 2012.