On a rainy, cold Wednesday in the nation’s capital, the Saskatchewan Roughriders held a closed practice at Carleton University. Behind closed gates, former NFL first round pick Trent Richardson was preparing for his CFL debut at running back for the Saskatchewan Roughriders who visit the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday afternoon (2:00 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Network).
“It’s gonna mean a lot,” Richardson said of his first CFL game. “It’s gonna mean a lot. With everything that’s been going on in my life, to look at my kids, we’ve went through a lot. To be able to get back out there, for the people who said I couldn’t do it or was always doubting me, my kids at home, my Mom and a couple other people, they truly believed in me. I can’t wait to get that call on game day from them.”
So what’s to be expected from Richardson in the CFL? He hasn’t played a regular season pro football game since 2014. When former NFL rushing leader Ricky Williams came to Canada in 2006 with the Argonauts, he failed to live up to the hype and the experiment fizzled in just a few games.
Roughriders Head Coach & GM Chris Jones is careful not to place too high of expectations on the former Colts and Browns star come Saturday.
“We just want him to be Trent Richardson,” Jones offered. “He’s always been a 4-yard-plus per carry guy. We’re hoping he can get 4.5-to-5.0-yards every time he touches the ball. Get behind his pads, run with power and be sure to protect our quarterback.”
Roughriders Running Backs coach Kent Maugeri has spent hours with the Richardson, getting him up to speed on the CFL game. Until last week, Richardson was unaware that the CFL features 12 players on both sides of the ball.
“My expectations are about the same,” Maugeri said after Wednesday’s practice. “I want 5-yards per carry. I’ll take that. Anything more than that is gravy.”
As for Richardson himself, he declined to answer what his personal stats goals are against the Argonauts.
“That’s personal.” the 5’9″, 225 lb Pensacola, FL product said. “No comment. I always set personal goals and I set ’em high.”
Like Vince Young, Richardson is a big name in American football and there will be a lot of curious eyes tuning into Saturday’s game from down south. However that makes no difference to the former Alabama Crimson Tide star.
“That’s gonna be ignored,” Richardson shrugged. “At the end of the day it’s about me. As long as I put God first and play football like I’ve been blessed too, I just have to play for myself. This is the first time I’ve ever truly been able to play for myself and to have fun with it. It brings back a lot of old memories and I get to go out there and create new memories.”
With Rider leading rusher Cameron Marshall still a few weeks away from a return due to injury, Chris Jones was asked if Richardson will become a permanent fixture in the Rider backfield.
“We’ll see,” Jones deflected. “You bring good players in when guys get hurt. You see where they fit with your football team. I’m not going to sit here and try to read into the future of what might happen in three weeks. We’re looking short term right now and get immediate results.”
The Riders will hold a brief practice Thursday morning in Ottawa before bussing to Toronto. They’ll hold a walk-through at Varsity Stadium Friday at 11:00 am.