OTTAWA – For a third straight year under Head Coach & GM Chris Jones, the Saskatchewan Roughriders practiced on Parliament Hill in advance of a game against the hometown RedBlacks.
On Wednesday, the Riders held an hour-long walk-through in front of Centre Black as they prepare for Thursday’s game against Ottawa (5:30 pm Sask Time, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network).
“A couple of years ago we weren’t even thinking of it until one day we were walking through the Capital and I told the security guard, ‘Hey there’s a perfectly good field right there. Why don’t we just practice there?'” Jones recalled on Wednesday. “He said ‘That’s public grounds so certainly you can do it’. We just started it then and it became something that the guys really like to do.
“I think it’s good for the players from both countries to see the Capital. It’s amazing how many of the kids from Canada still haven’t seen that before as well. I think that’s an honour. They’re young so I don’t think they grasped a whole lot but after awhile it’s sink in about what they’ve been able to do.”
Federal government officials said Wednesday that the Parliament lawn is open to any CFL teams to practice on, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the only team to take advantage of it.
Of course the big storyline heading into Thursday’s game is reigning Rider MVP Duron Carter starting at cornerback in place of injured rookie Nick Marshall. At Wednesday’s pregame media session, Carter was asked what challenges the RedBlacks receivers pose.
“I don’t think they bring any challenges to tell you the truth,’ Carter shrugged. ‘They’re not better than the receivers we go up against in practice. So ya. There you go.”
The flamboyant CFL star was further asked what’s difficult about switching from his regular receiver spot to the corner.
“Nothing at all,” Carter offered. “If it was a challenge I don’t think Coach Jones would put me there. He has the confidence to put me there just like any other player.”
During his session with reporters, Jones was asked what led to him switching Carter to defense.
“We kinda got fortunate on that one too,” Jones said. “Duron wore me out last year telling me he could play defense so one day I just stuck him over there on defense to keep him from telling me. He went over there and he just was a natural at doing that job.”