Being a revolving door as an offensive lineman is the worst-case situation. Whether it’s holding down the starting position or allowing a pass-rusher through the line of scrimmage, becoming a turnstile is the worst-case scenario.
The right tackle position was in a state of flux for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2022 after free agent signee Na’Ty Rodgers was unable to hold down the job. The green and white didn’t find any further success substituting Jamal Campbell or Kooper Richardson into the spot.
Eric Lofton will likely get the shot to start at right tackle when the Roughriders begin the 2023 season on Sunday in Edmonton against the Elks.
Saskatchewan is the fourth team in the Canadian Football League (CFL) for the offensive lineman after stops in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Ottawa.
Before signing with the Roughriders, Lofton mostly served as a reserve offensive lineman throughout his career. He was drawn to the potential of a starting position in Saskatchewan.
When he agreed to terms with the team in February, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, product believed he could become a starter.
“That was one of the goals I set for myself.” said Lofton
“And really help the team where ever I can and starting is helping the team, that’s what I plan to do.”
Last season in Winnipeg, the former Temple Owl started one game with the Blue Bombers after the blue and gold had their playoff fate secured. During his time in Winnipeg, Lofton gained valuable tutelage from players like four-time Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman winner Stanley Bryant.
“So many great guys and every day I wanted to make that I took something or learned something from there, to apply when it was finally my opportunity.”
When the Roughriders open up the season at Commonwealth Stadium, Lofton won’t be the only new offensive lineman starting on the Saskatchewan offensive line. Peter Godber will start in the middle at centre, with Brandon Council likely getting his first start at left tackle. Council was a late addition to the Roughriders roster during training camp, but Lofton believes the Auburn product has handled the quick transition quite well.
“He’s coming in, asking questions, he’s eager to learn, high effort, everything, I think he’s done an amazing job and I think he’s going to get the job done.”
During his time in Saskatoon, the 30-year-old player had the opportunity to work with Logan Ferland and Evan Johnson, who were part of the Roughriders’ offensive line last year. Lofton expressed confidence in their pair’s ability to move past a disappointing 2022 season.
“It was very exciting playing next to these guys, finally got a chance, we’re excited and ready to go.”
Sunday’s season opener in Edmonton has Lofton excited for the season ahead.
“I’m fired up to finally take the field, finally take the field seriously with these guys, we have a great group of guys, really the whole team, this is a deep team, very talented team.”
Lofton will now have the chance to become a starter for the Roughriders at right tackle and the opportunity to close the revolving door.
- Friday’s practice was closed off.
- Head Coach Craig Dickenson wouldn’t commit to announcing the starting left tackle, but all indications at this point is that Council will get the start.
- Dickenson also noted that the plan is for Jerald Hawkins to return to the team at some point. Hawkins is currently away from the team dealing with a personal matter.
- On the injury report following practice, Brayden Lenius, Philip Blake and Derrick Moncrief were all listed as out, making their status for Sunday very unlikely. Lenius is dealing with a lower back injury, Blake is out with a chest injury and Moncrief is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.