Linebackers are expected to be a strength for the Saskatchewan Roughriders this season. The unit received a boost with the signing of Darnell Sankey from the Calgary Stampeders.
In his rookie season with the Stampeders, Sankey led the league in tackles and was named a CFL Western All-Star.
The first week of training camp has been a smooth transition according to Sankey. “It’s great to come around, fly around with the players, this team is great, a lot of guys I knew already and guys who knew me, it’s great, I’m having a great time.”
Riders Defensive Coordinator Jason Shivers says Sankey brings a lot to the green and white. “Aggression, leadership, want to, as far as taking in all the information and he is soaking it all up and asking really great questions and like I tell him, we’re going to keep it simple, we’re going to let your athleticism shine and that’s what it’s all about.”
One of the features of the Roughriders defensive scheme that Sankey enjoys is the amount of the freedom that is given to the linebackers. “Coach Shivs really gives us that responsibility, especially as the Mike linebacker, he puts us in charge and he says do what you feel is fit.” Sankey added “When it comes down to it, you’re just flying around making plays either way.”
Depth should not be a problem at linebackers with the Roughriders this season. Along with Sankey, the Riders signed Derrick Moncrief in the offseason. Larry Dean is expected to make a contribution this season after missing all of 2021 with an injury and Canadian Micah Teitz returns after a solid 2021 campaign. Sankey says the strong depth is something that he welcomes. “It’s a great thing, it forces me as a player, especially as the new guy coming in, a free agent signing to really step my game up and really make sure that I am able to come in here and learn the playbook, learn the scheme and lead, lead the defence.”
Even though Sankey has yet to suit for the green and white, he says that he is receiving a lot of support from rider nation. “I’ve been feeling a lot love especially from the fans, the media, the coaches, the players.” Sankey added “I feel like the most part I’m respected not only as a player but as a man and that what it comes down to.”
Sankey’s first action on the field with the Roughriders is scheduled to be the preseason opener when the Riders host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Tuesday at 6:30.
You can catch the game on 620 CKRM with pregame coverage beginning at 3:30.