RIDER NOTES

May 21st, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that national long snapper Jorgen Hus has signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contract were not released.

Hus (6’1 – 230) was originally selected by the Eskimos in the fourth round (31st overall) of the 2013 CFL Draft. Over the last two seasons the Saskatoon native and University of Regina product has spent time with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs.

The Riders acquired Hus’ CFL playing rights on May 11 along with a third round selection in the 2016 CFL Draft from Edmonton. In exchange the Riders sent national wide receiver Cory Watson and a second round selection in the 2016 CFL Draft to the Eskimos.

· The Riders also announced they have added four territorial junior players to their training camp roster. Receiver Preston Bews and offensive lineman Matthew Halbgewachs of the Regina Thunder and receiver Evan Turkington and defensive lineman Matt Kozun of the Saskatoon Hilltops will join the team at the University of Saskatchewan.

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RIDER TRAINING CAMP PRESENTED BY COORS LIGHT

The Saskatchewan Roughriders will open their 2015 training camp at the University of Saskatchewan next week. Two-a-day workouts will start on Sunday, May 31st on the turf at Griffiths Stadium.

The Riders have teamed with Coors Light on a presenting partnership for what will be known as the Riders Training Camp presented by Coors Light.

The team is scheduled to return to Regina for a walk through in the afternoon of June 18th. They play their final preseason game on June 19th, versus the Calgary Stampeders at Mosaic Stadium.

IMPORTANT TRAINING CAMP DATES

Saturday, May 30:
· Players report and team travel to Saskatoon.

Sunday, May 31:
First day of training camp at the University of Saskatchewan’s Griffiths Stadium.
Walk through: 9:45AM – 10:45AM. Practice: 3:00PM – 4:45PM

Thursday, June 4:
· Walk through at Alfred Jenkins Field House in Prince Albert: 2:30PM – 3:40PM
- 30-minute on field autograph session to follow

Saturday, June 6:
· Green and White Fan Day
- Warmup: 3:15PM – 3:55PM. Mock Game: 4:00PM – 5:00PM.

Monday, June 8 & Wednesday, June 10:
· Morning practices at SMF Field at Gordie Howe Park: 8:30AM – 10:40AM

Saturday, June 13: Pre-Season Game ‘B’
Saskatchewan at Edmonton – 8:00 pm – Fort McMurray

Thursday, June 18
· Walk through at Mosaic Stadium in Regina

Friday, June 19: Pre-Season Game ‘C’
Saskatchewan vs. Calgary – 7:30 pm – Mosaic Stadium

NEAL HUGHES RETIRES

May 21st, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today national fullback Neal Hughes is retiring from the Canadian Football League.

Hughes is a veteran of eleven CFL seasons and played 140 career regular season games after making his Rider debut July 16, 2004. The Regina, SK native was originally signed as a free agent in April, 2004 after a standout career at the University of Regina.

Spending the entirety of his career in Green and White, Hughes totaled 70 carries for 277 rushing yards and eight touchdowns while adding 46 catches for 505 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He also registered 18 kickoff returns for 246 yards, one punt return for 21 yards and is third all-time in Rider special teams tackles with 100.

He is a two-time Grey Cup champion having won with the Roughriders in 2007 and again in 2013.

FINALLY, GREAT NEWS FOR THE ARGOS

May 19th, 2015

TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts have found a new home and owner.

Two league sources confirmed Tuesday the CFL team has been sold to Bell and MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum. The official announcement will be made Wednesday.

The sources say the deal also includes a lease agreement for the Argos to begin play at BMO Field as early as next season. That’s pending renovations needed to accommodate the CFL field but they’re expected to be completed in time for the football franchise to play at the lakefront stadium in 2016.

The Argos will play this season at Rogers Centre. Their lease there is to expire after the 2017 campaign although they have the option of leaving earlier if they find a new venue.

The announcement will cap roughly a year of talks between Argos owner David Braley and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. It was generally accepted that the sale of the team and lease agreement at BMO would be announced together but the deal had to be completed by June 1 for the football team to have any chance of playing at Exhibition Place in 2016.

Absent from the deal is Rogers Communications, which is part of the MLSE ownership group with Bell and Tanenbaum. Rogers was reportedly not interested in acquiring the 142-year-old franchise, likely because it has no ties to the CFL while Bell has a vested interest in the league through its broadcast affiliate TSN.

Rogers, which owns the Rogers Centre and Toronto Blue Jays, prompted the Argo search for a new home by telling them the plan to install grass in the domed facility meant they had to leave.

Braley, who also owns the B.C. Lions, assumed assumed control of the Argos in February 2010 from Toronto businessmen David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski.

While Cynamon and Sokolowski tried to move the Argos from Rogers Centre, Braley remained committed to the CFL club playing there. However, Braley has said repeatedly in recent months that fan discontent with the dome prompted him to begin looking for an alternative home venue for the storied franchise.

Fans have long complained about the lack of atmosphere at Rogers Centre, where Toronto averaged under 20,000 spectators last year in a stadium that can hold over 50,000 fans for football. Also, the Argos have found it difficult to secure decent home dates because of stiff competition from baseball and special events.

BMO Field, a city-owned stadium that’s home to Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, is undergoing a $120-million renovation with MLSE footing most of the bill. MLSE owns TFC and managed the stadium.

The first phase, completed earlier this month, added some 8,000 seats in the form of a second tier to the east stand, as well as more premium club options.

The second phase, to be completed by May 2016, involves putting on a canopy around three sides of the lakefront stadium as well as installing a new audio and lighting system.

To convert the field for CFL play, the seats in the north stand will have to be reconfigured while the first seven or eight rows in the south stand will have to be converted into retractable, removable seats.

New, bigger dressing rooms will also have to be built to accommodate football.

Bob Hunter, MLSE’s chief project development officer, estimated the cost of CFL conversion at anywhere from $20 million to $23 million.

Some soccer fans have opposed the idea of converting BMO Field for the Argos, contending that CFL play will impact the quality of the playing surface. A banner saying “No Argos bBMO” was hung on the south stands at the last Toronto FC home game.

Outgoing MLSE CEO and president Tim Leiweke insists soccer fans will notice no difference if CFL football is played at the stadium.

Others hope that the move to a more intimate setting from the cavernous Rogers Centre will help revive football in Toronto, as it did in Montreal.

Neither source would confirm specific details of the sale, which reportedly includes two Grey Cup games being held at BMO Field. The first would be the 2016 CFL championship game.

RIDERS 2015 DRAFT

May 12th, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are pleased to announce they have selected University of Manitoba wide receiver Nic Demski with the sixth overall pick in Tuesday’s CFL Draft.

Demski (6’0 – 215 lbs.) has been selected by the Green and White after playing four seasons with the Bisons. In 2014 the Winnipeg, MB native made 27 catches for 589 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing 47 yards on six carries. The 21-year-old also contributed on special teams where he added 19 punt returns for 272 yards and a touchdown.

He was named a 2014 CIS second-team All-Canadian and a Canada West All-Star as well as playing in the East-West Bowl.

Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin had these comments on Demski Tuesday evening:

CC: “Exciting. We looked at a lot of different guys on film but in the last couple of days we went back through it and, as a staff, offense and defense, when we turned his film on, it was exciting. It’s exciting when you see him. That’s what we want to be on offense, is exciting. He’s a playmaker. There’s no one that’s more excited than me to have Nic Demski come to the fold. We need that type of explosiveness.

Chamblin says they were thrilled that Demski was still available at number six. He was the first receiver chosen in the draft.

CC: “That’s who we pinpointed. It’s a little out of the box, even for us. We had to go with what’s conventional and what’s not conventional but he’s a playmaker.”

620 CKRM reached Demski at home in Winnipeg Tuesday evening and these are his thoughts on being a Roughrider:

DID HE KNOW THE RIDERS WERE LEANING TOWARDS HIM?

DEMSKI: “Not too, too much. They had their follow-up pre-draft phone call with me Monday night and Tuesday morning so they were definitely keeping in touch with me. But there was no team that I thought I’d go to so it was definitely a nice little surprise.”

ON A WINNIPEG PRODUCT GOING TO RIVAL SASKATCHEWAN

DEMSKI: “It doesn’t really matter where I’m from anymore. I got a new family now so I can’t wait to go to work with them.”

DID THE RIDERS DISCLOSE THEIR PLANS FOR HIM?

DEMSKI: “They didn’t go into too much detail. They like the way that I play when the ball’s in my hands and how I play in open field. I’m just hoping I can get as many touches as I can that way and however they want to use me, I trust them and like I said, I just can’t wait to get to work with them.”

UofR Rams receiver Addison Richards went in the second round to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

RP

RIDERS ACQUIRE HUS

May 11th, 2015

EDMONTON – The Edmonton Eskimos acquired Canadian receiver Cory Watson and a 2016 second-round pick from the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Monday for the rights to long-snapper Jorgen Hus and a ’16 third-round selection.

Saskatchewan acquired Watson from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Jan. 29. The former Concordia star spent five seasons in Manitoba, registering 178 receptions for 2,217 yards and six TDs in 67 career games.

Edmonton selected Saskatoon native Hus in the fourth round (31st overall) of the 2013 CFL Canadian Draft out of the University of Regina. He then signed with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, spending the 2013 and 2014 training camps with the team.

Hus also spent time with the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City before being released by the Chiefs last week.

TWO RAMS HEADED TO NEW YORK

May 5th, 2015

CFL.ca’s and Sportsnet’s Justin Dunk reported on Tuesday that University of Regina Rams players REC Addison Richards and DB Tevaughn Campbell have been invited to New York Giants minicamp this weekend.

The pair is already slated to go high in next Tuesday’s CFL Draft as Richards is rated 12th and Campbell is slotted at #15. However as of Tuesday, their sights are now on the NFL.

“It was a pretty good way to wake up this morning!” Richards told 620 CKRM’s SportsCage Tuesday afternoon. “I got a text from my agent that the Giants gave him a call and were extending an invite to camp. I was thrilled. I jumped at the opportunity.”

We eagerly asked the Sheldon-Williams Collegiate grad who was the first person he told, and what was the first thing that crossed his mind?

“I was just sitting there with my Mom and having a morning coffee,” Richards explained. “I really didn’t know what to think. I kind of felt a wave of emotions. It’s sinking in now and I’m just excited to get out there.”

Richards said it’s comforting to know he’ll be headed to New York with a familiar face.

“Ya it’s a pretty good opportunity for Tevaughn as well,” Richards continued. “I’m pretty sure I’ll get to see (former Rams centre) Brett Jones as well so it’s nice to have a bit of a Rams flavour out there.”

Richards said he departs Thursday and will be on field for workouts Friday and Saturday with other Giants hopefuls. Other than that, he doesn’t have any pre-conceived notions.

“Pretty much right now I’m just thankful for the opportunity,” Richards smiled. “I just want to go out and show what I can do. Show what I can offer, and really it’s a ‘no-lose’ situation. The CFL Draft is next week and I’m just taking it one day at a time.”

The Regina product’s life has suddenly become a whirlwind, but he’s trying to handle it as best as he can.

“It’s pretty crazy right now,” Richards concluded. “It’s pretty mentally taxing with everything that’s going on but like I said, I’m just trying to take it one day at a time. I’m trying to not get ahead of myself, and just enjoy the moment.”

RIDER CONFERENCE CALL NOTES

May 5th, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughriders held their annual State of the Franchise conference call on Tuesday featuring President Craig Reynolds, GM Brendan Taman and Head Coach Corey Chamblin. Here are some notes on the session:

ON THE FIVE RECENT SIGNINGS

Chamblin: There will be more in the next few days. There was a good crew in Florida. These guys stood out and knew what they were doing. One or two look like they can start.

CENTRE POSITION

Chamblin: I think Clark and Watman need to prove it on the football field. We have confidence in those two guys but there’s others on the roster. They have to prove it.

ON THE 2015 DRAFT LATE ROUNDS

Taman: I believe players can be found there. History proves in the league there’s been significant players that haven’t even been drafted. WR Alex Carroll out of Queen’s – who we signed last week – proves that. There are a number of examples of late round picks that have played very well. If you do your homework, you can get great guys in later rounds.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED AS A HEAD COACH?

Chamblin: In your freshman year, you let the news affect you. I’ve grown a lot. I’ve reflected and I knew this is my 9th year in the league overall and 4th as head coach. I feel confident I can be an elite head coach in this league and my team will be elite. That’s because of the management, staff and players. I’ve learned defense too, and how to run it and what defenses can be dominant in an offensive league. I’m ready to take the next step and for this organization to take the next step.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN PLAYERS?

Chamblin: The first year was different. Now I understand more about positions and one of those is the offensive line. I understand the tangibles that make that position good. I understand now what makes good teams better, and the ratio and things like that.

ON REBUILDING THE COACHING STAFF

Chamblin: I didn’t think the changes would be this dramatic. When you remove one part, some chips just fall and that’s what happened. Somewhere along the line you need to start looking at philosophy. Goals change and sometimes with that the parts have to change. Coming off a Grey Cup year, sometimes there can be a lull and the fire isn’t there. There will need to be changes, sometimes from attrition.

I’m pleased. There’s a strong bond there. It has to be tested on the field but we have quality coaches on all three sides of the ball.

ON AN AGGRESSIVE DEFENSE

Chamblin: When you look at change, I am growing so there’s different levels. Richie Hall did a great job helping me understand a lot of things. It was time for Richie to have his own show and not be burdened by my shadow. Greg Quick will be aggressive. Greg comes with a certain mindset and will follow what I set out, and will run with it. We’ll run the same defense with some more flavour to it.

NEW O.C. JACQUES CHAPDELAINE

Chamblin: They’re different but in a lot of ways they’re the same. Cortez and Chapdelaine are both smart and know how to put points on the board. There may be some new schemes.

AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT?

Chamblin: We can’t depend on one man. With Darian or not, we need to still be a strong team. We had to change the mindset. That was the biggest thing. If someone’s having a down day, someone needs to pick up the slack.

ON CANADIANS IN THE NFL

Taman: It affects the draft substantially. We meet on a daily basis. It changes the game. Your draft board changes throughout the whole process. It’s significant in its own way. You have to make decisions based on what you know. We’ll take the best guy that’s available depending on our needs. If someone’s going to the NFL, that tells me about him that’s for sure. I’d rather be picking 9th instead of 6th. 9th means we won the Grey Cup. We’ve talked about trades but haven’t done anything yet.

DARIAN DURANT

Chamblin: The clearance from medical staff was one thing. The clearance from him was another. We’ve very comfortable with where he was in Florida. He’s excited in the new offense and he got the hang of it.

NEW RULES

Chamblin: There’s some things we’ve been working on constantly. We tried to implement some things in Florida. Some worked, some didn’t. It’ll be an ongoing process.

S TYRON BRACKENRIDGE

Chamblin: He’ll be used in different spots. He’ll maintain the safety spot. I think we have the ratio figured out and guys will be pleased with their playing time.

HOW WILL THE PRESIDENT’S ROLE WORK

Reynolds: Ultimately I’m responsible for the overall success of this organization. My philosophy is you hire good football folks and we’ve got two of them in the room here. You give them all the resources they need to be successful and you hold them accountable for that success. We meet regularly on football but we have a strong business focus too.

POSITIONAL NEEDS IN THE DRAFT?

Taman: Hopefully you don’t have a lot because that means you have a strong team. I won’t say what we’re going to do. Corey’s identified those and we’ll try to fill those. It’ll depend on what happens in the draft in the picks that go before us and we’ll adjust accordingly. I won’t share our plans right now.

QB BRANDON BRIDGE

Taman: He’s very athletic. He’s with Dallas now. Canadian QBs are a big area of talk in our league and I’m sure he’ll do fine wherever he goes.

MCDOUGALL AT WILL

Chamblin: He has the size. That’s an option. He can play multiple positions like Craig Butler. There are a number of things we can do with him. We have three different ratios set up.

Keenan wants to start. You can start but that doesn’t mean you’ll finish the game. WR Cory Watson has a lot of tools. He could go into a starting role if he wants to. A lot of things go into a game day roster.

THE NEW STADIUM

Reynolds: It’s 27% complete as of two weeks ago. It’s on time and on budget. It’s scheduled for completion at the end of August, 2016. There are a couple of test events scheduled for the fall of 2016 and the spring of 2017.

ON THE NEW COMMISSIONER

Reynolds: I haven’t met with him yet but I’ve encouraged him via email to come out here and experience the Rider Nation. Certainly in terms of what we’d like is he has a mandate to attract the youth demographic and we have the same goal here so we’d like to meet and discuss that.

RIDERS RETURNING TO SASKATOON FOR 2015 TRAINING CAMP

April 30th, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughriders officially confirmed today that they will once again be holding this year’s training camp at Griffith’s Stadium at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

This will mark the third consecutive season the team will travel to the U of S campus to hold training camp after the Green and White held practice sessions there in 2013 and 2014.

The 2015 edition of Saskatchewan Roughrider training camp will open with on field workouts beginning Sunday, May 31st. The team will stay in Saskatoon practicing through Wednesday, June 17th at which time they will return to Regina ahead of their final preseason game June 19th at Mosaic Stadium versus the Calgary Stampeders.

Further details including practice times and fan events will be released in the coming weeks.

IMPORTANT TRAINING CAMP DATES
Sunday, May 31:
First day of training camp at the University of Saskatchewan’s Griffiths Stadium.

Thursday, June 4:
· Afternoon walk through in Prince Albert

Saturday, June 6:
· Rider Fan Fest Day – evening practice with mock game
- More information on Fan Fest Day will be released soon.

Monday, June 8 & Wednesday, June 10:
· Morning practices at Gordie Howe Bowl in Saskatoon

Saturday, June 13: Pre-Season Game ‘B’
Saskatchewan at Edmonton – 8:00 pm – Fort McMurray

Thursday, June 18
· Walk through at Mosaic Stadium in Regina

Friday, June 19: Pre-Season Game ‘C’
Saskatchewan vs. Calgary – 7:30 pm – Mosaic Stadium

RIDERS ADD PICTON, SIGN TWO CANADIANS

April 29th, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that national quarterback Noah Picton has been added to the team’s training camp roster.

Picton plays at the University of Regina and will join the Riders after being appointed by the CFL as part of the Canadian quarterback internship program.

Last season, the Regina native started four of eight regular season games. The 19-year-old redshirt freshman completed 123 of 192 attempts (64.1%) for 2,029 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 20 rush attempts for 140 yards and a touchdown. He added 147 passing yards on 14 completions in the Canada West semi-final.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that national wide receiver Alex Carroll and national running back Ronlee King-Fileen have signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contracts were not released.

Carroll (5’11 – 195) joins the Green and White after spending the previous five seasons at Queen’s University. Last season the Victoria, BC native led the OUA with 52 receptions, totaling 875 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games with the Gaels. The 23-year-old was named an OUA First Team All-Star receiver and Second Team All-Star kick and punt returner.

Carroll recently attended mini-camp with the Riders after being scouted at a 2015 CFL regional combine and was subsequently added to the team’s negotiation list.

King-Fileen (6’ – 220) joins the Riders after spending the previous five seasons at Bishops University. Last year, the Brampton, ON native amassed 434 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 69 carries while adding six catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. The 25-year-old played just five games with the Gaiters in 2014 but was still named a RSEQ First Team All-Star and CIS Second Team All-Canadian.

RIDERS TO “PASS IT ON”

April 28th, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club today has launched a new community theme, “Pass It On,” which aims to redefine and elevate the impact that Roughriders community initiatives have in Saskatchewan. “Pass It On” will be represented across all of the community programs and partner organizations that the Roughriders are involved with. In 2014-15, the commitment provided by the Rider organization had a direct financial impact to not-for-profit and various charitable organizations of $1.1-million.

“The work we do in communities across this province is one of the most important things we do as an organization,” said Saskatchewan Roughriders Vice President of Business Development and Marketing, Gregg Sauter. “Giving back is at the core of our culture and our values as a football club. We could not be prouder of the incredible partners we have at both the grassroots and corporate level that allow us to have such a positive impact on individuals and communities across the province.”

“Our partnership with the Saskatchewan Roughriders is critical in our efforts to provide bullying prevention education to schools and communities across the province,” said Cindy Fuchs, provincial director of the Canadian Red Cross in Saskatchewan. “Players like Scott McHenry, Dan Clark and Neal Hughes have reached over 50,000 students in the last five years.”

“Partnering with the Saskatchewan Roughriders has helped making an amazing impact on women facing a life-threatening diagnosis of cancer,” said Jonathan Huntington, Manager, Community Investment at Cameco.

“The partnership between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Football Saskatchewan has enabled us to provide our members more opportunities to grow the sport of football across the entire province while enhancing the quality of the game for all those involved,” said Director of Football Operations for Football Saskatchewan, Mike Thomas. “Through the Centennial Legacy and Grey Cup Legacy Grant Programs, amateur football in Saskatchewan is thriving thanks to the great efforts of our Saskatchewan Roughriders!”