Anticipating what the Riders line up will look like to start the season with the roster getting set and players who will be out on the 6 game IR.
First concern would be MLB. Kilgore looked to be the starter but Sam Hurl is also a starting Calibre MLB and in his rookie season was very valuable in second and long packages. So with him and Peters spending a lot of time in TC with the 1's there should not really be much dropoff at that position. Tristian Black has been an exclusive teams player but does not mean that he cannot play some LB if needed. Shomari Williams before he left for Hamilton was able to play Will LB but has been injured all camp.
Receivers: So far Schillens Swain, and Smith all look to be able to be starting receivers in the CFL.Do they still need to continue getting better at the Waggle, yes but all signs are pointing to they will. Eron Riley so far so good. was groomed last year He is not an All Starbut a starter is well within reach.
Canadian Receivers a Healthy Bagg makes a difference. Getzlaf has not practiced all TC leaving a true rookie which would be unlikley but has proved to be a topteams player. Leaves a versatile McHenry who does a sufficient job but is very valuable as an H Back in the scheme. Unless Taj Smith goes tojail he is a 1,000 yard receiver.
RB by comittee. I could see both dressing and both playing with packages that suite their skills. a two back system cna and is used effectively in the CFL.
Ratio 6 on offense and one on defense. Hurl being in the line up sures that up but Kilgore will be back at some point.
Dline Still in need of a couple of DTs to step up one to start and one to rotate.
DE Foley best case scenerio Ainsworth develops fast and is able to rotate on Dline for Foley when needed. Worst case David Lee will back up Foley and spot sub if needed to balance ratio otherwise Chick, Foley, and a healthy Taylor have all the signs of the three DE rotation the coach has in mind.
Returners Smith and Green are natural punt returners and have so far proven that they will be good at it in the CFL. Kick Off returns could be green as well is he can get onto the 44 otherwise there are several players who would be able to return Kick Offs. Tristian Jackson has been off and on as a returner but focusing on just Kick offs would probably make a difference for him.
Coverage teams should be as good as ever.Woldu and Tristian Black are expereinced starting teams players. Ainsworth has all the tools as a rookie for teams. Hurl and Mchenry are back from the Hair Force coverage teams even though their roles on O and D will be expanded. Peters along with other great athletes from the secondary can pull double duties. Healthy Shomari and Hughes can always be counted on as Teams players.
Kicking. Milo concentrating on place Kicking paid huge dividends and should continue and the Aussie brings some very unique and effective punting skills to the table.
Lee is more likely to rotate with Foley at this point...he is ready. that is 1 ratio spot.
4 on the OL makes 5
1 WR in Bagg/whomever
1 SB in Getz, but it sounds like he will miss at least week 1. This is why I was so shocked Etienne was cut. There is no other Canadian SB on the roster. As I said before, I think they intend to transition Pierzchalsk to SB...but is he ready now? Big step.
This gets them by for now, but there are going to be times they want to rotate in 2 Internationals at SB.
Woldu could end up starting...he is the only natural CB on the roster (scary) but has no NI backup, so it is unlikely.
Tristan Black can also rotate in as LB if need be, so have that as a ratio buster once the SB mess is figured out or they decide what to do with Woldu. I like Woldu, but if you have no intent of rotating in a DB as a ratio guy, I don't understand why he is there...unless he is there simply for prevent packages. I do wonder if they will move Black outside (like he was last year a bit) along with Hurl, where he predominantly played in 2012, and did so to all-star status. This seems pretty logical to me once Kilgore is healthy. That puts Kilgore inside with perhaps Ivy as a backup or someone else. Oh...Kilgore broke his thumb.
Personally I would have cut Tristan Jackson and put him on the PR and used green in that capacity, or maybe Hilee Taylor and put Ivy in as MLB for now. Ivy may not have had the stats, but he looked good on the DL, so it gives that versatility.
Why they didn't do more to sign McElveen is beyond me...especially after losing 2 Canadian DT. They lost a PILE of Canadian talent on D, so there are a lot of question marks.
I don't see the RB by committee happening. I am thinking Toston gets 60% of the RB carries game 1 and by week by week 4 80%+
I can see that. Perhaps Etienne is not going too far away and if Getz was unable to go he could have been called back very quickly. Having the Combo of Foley and Lee as well as starting Hurl for 6 games gives them some breathing room with the one ratio spot on defense. Even when Kilgore comes back Hurl will still be on the roster and in the mix in defensive package.
Certainly hope that they are not counting on Woldu to play field CB. There may have been a time where he could have played it in a pinch but now strictly a teams player. With his experience though playing some safety is possible while moving Brakenridge around at times.
I was really surprised that they did not make more of an effort to re sign Newman and upgrade his role with being a similar type player to Butler but that is neither here nor there now.
Pierzchalsk earned his roster spot with his teams play but playing serious minutes at SB during a regular season game is a big jump from the CIS and pre season.
Again Etienne is a suspicious situation. The old hand shake deal with a wink to stay ready.
I have to wonder with PFC Junior training camp ready to start could the Riders have funneled a donation to the Thunder, the Thunder hire Etienne as a part time training camp receivers coach getting a little stipend while working out with the Thunder as well while bunking with Family or friends from his hometown
I second thought I do not think that the riders have announced there practice roster. It could be perhaps that Etienne could start on the practice roster keeping him with the team and in the mix while some shuffling and injuries shake out.
Also an Unique scenerio this season with the Cap now with an extra sum of 600K really yet to be spent. The minimum is 500 a week on the PR but players can be paid more which would count against the cap
I think that the bulk of that 600k is earmarked for a possible Sheets return and hopefully a Dressler return. Each getting a good chunk of that. The rest would probably be used for fill ins or incentive bonuses. Face it if the Riders could get both Sheets and Dressler back the odds of them repeating go up by about 60%. Not getting either of them and no disrespect to Dress, but especially Sheets it may be a bit of a bumpy ride to getting to the playoffs. I love Dress, he's a little spitball of fire and determination that very seldom leaves anything in the locker room. Sheets though as shown last year is a dominating back that can virtually win a game on his own. I want both back but I can see Dressler staying on down South where Sheets may be in tough simply because of his age.
Sisco I thought was the case but Etienne a little surprised. If they are truly just going to cut all ties with Etienne than they could have something in the works in getting another Canadian SB in the mix.
Sorry I can't quite agree. When Sheets was out for the 3 games I don't think it was a coincidence they lost 3 in a row. As I said I love Dressler and I think he is more of a team guy, look at the Grey Cup game during the introductions after the TiCats did their bit of show boating the first Rider player was announced and you could see Dressler getting the guys to then all run out as a team. I knew right then Hamilton was in for a long game. Sheets though is the X factor and yes he owned that game. As I mentioned if they could get both back I like their chances of a repeat. If they only get Dressler back it certainly improves their odds greatly but I still think Sheets is the one that can break a game open. When the hoggies get pushing and Sheets starts ripping apart defenses it's only a matter of time before the Riders own the other team.
I have to say Dressler is more important than sheets but we really could use them both back, when he got injured last season the reason we started losing was due to the lack of any kind of running game. This held true for the whole season.
When Sheets got hurt Cortez stopped handing the ball off. With that offensive line they had almost 20 rushes per game, but in the 3 games with Sheets out they averaged 5 or 6 rushes per game. 3 games lost by a combined 9 points and only run the ball 6 times? With THAT offensive line you gotta run the damn ball. That was on Cortez, NOT the ball carrier.
If Sheets can get you 1800 yds then your grandma can get 1000 - and Toston can get you 1400 because the offensive line drives the ground game. Always has, always will. They will still be a powerful offense with a 1400 yd back or even a 1200 yd back.
When you have a receiver with great speed, super savvy, golden hands and an 'anything to win' attitude all in one package, that is difficult to replace.
One thing I think Cortez has learned is that you need to have 2 RBs ready at all times. He road Sheets hard and then Sanders got demoted off the roster leaving them with one Tailback on the roster and ready to go.
When Sheets returned he still got a heavy work load but added Sanders into the mix as well made the Backfield even better.
I recall a game when he was with Hamilton where Walker went down in the first half and he had no real tailback on the roster. Darryl Stephanson was the closest thing they had and they spent the second half barely running the ball and the defense just pinned their ears back and came after Burris every down.
Use that additional DI spot wisely or find a solid National TB that can do a solid job. ie. matt Walter in Calgary last season.