With a playoff berth clinched, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are starting to look forward to a Grey Cup run. Following Tuesday’s closed practice at Mosaic Stadium, players discussed the Road to the Grey Cup, and the fact they stand as good of a chance as anyone at capturing the CFL championship in 2017.
“Oh I’ve been saying that,” smiled receiver Chad Owens. “When you can mix talent – which we have a lot of – with hard work, with the coaching staff that we have, the tough games that we’ve been in, we’re prepared for these playoffs. I think we have a legit chance to go all the way and win that Grey Cup this year. We have that opportunity now and that’s all we can ask for.”
Owens said the rebuilding Riders were an attractive option when he was deciding where to sign as a free agent last winter.
“Absolutely,” Owens continued. “You look at Coach Jones’s track record. His second year seems to be the magic number. We brought in the vets this year to add to an already stacked and talented team. You mix in the vets and their experience, plus the youth we have who’ve learned the system, I think this is the perfect blend at the right time.”
Head Coach & GM Chris Jones said it wasn’t an accident that the club added a handful of free agent veterans who’ve won Grey Cups in the past such as lineman Derek Dennis and Owens. Coupled with the hunger of vets who haven’t won like Kevin Glenn and Peter Dyakowski, Jones feels they have the right blend.
“I think that the experience is a very big factor,” Jones offered. “For every young guy that you have, you make a mistake or two that can end up costing you. It’s good to have that experience heading down the stretch.”
Receiver Bakari Grant is another veteran leader on this team who’s still looking for his first championship. The Cal-Davis product said clinching a playoff spot is just a mild milestone on the way to their ultimate goal.
“Anyone who’s been around the game long enough knows it’s hard to get satisfied, especially when you don’t have a ring,” Grant salivated on Tuesday. “You’re talking to somebody who’s lost three of the past four Grey Cups. My satisfaction will come when I walk off the field with a championship.”
Of course the Road to the Grey Cup has yet to be mapped out. The Riders could finish third in the West and stay in their own division in the playoffs or finish fourth and crossover to the East.
“The great debate: East or West,” Grant smiled. “I don’t think it matters. It’s gonna be a tough road either way. You know the CFL; any team can win on any day. When you have to go away from this beautiful home, it’s going to be tough to win in another place. It’s going to be tough regardless.”
The Riders will hold an open practice on Wednesday. On Friday night they welcome Darian Durant and the Montreal Alouettes at Mosaic Stadium (7:30 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Network).