Back In Rhythm: Roughriders look to stay on track against Winnipeg

The Saskatchewan Roughriders hope their momentum won’t skip a beat.

On Wednesday, the green and white returned to the field for the first time since their 34-29 win against the BC Lions on Sunday, August 20.

With the Labour Day Classic just around the corner, the Roughriders will look to close some ground on the first-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Jake Dolegala will make his second straight start at Quarterback for Saskatchewan. In his first start of the season, the Central Connecticut product tossed three touchdown passes as he led the Roughriders to a pivotal victory over the Lions.

After a nine-day break, Dolegala was excited to return to practice with his teammates ahead of Sunday’s matchup.

Even with the team fresh off a big win against BC, the Hamburg, New York product enjoyed the time off.

“Coach Dickie (Dickenson) always said good or bad, we got to flush it, so that’s how I kind of approached it.”

Samuel Emilus was one of the Roughriders receivers who caught a touchdown pass from Dolegala against the Lions. The 25-year-old receiver isn’t worried about reestablishing chemistry with the quarterback. Emilus pointed out he has spent plenty of time over the past two seasons catching footballs from Dolegala.

“Those guys (quarterbacks) throw after practice, I’ve been catching from Jake since last year and this year is the same thing really, I don’t really have to adjust.”

Roughriders Head Coach Craig Dickenson told Michael Ball on Monday’s edition of the SportsCage that Dolegala had a charismatic personality that made him popular among his teammates. Dickenson said on Wednesday that the quarterback’s character is hard to describe unless you’re there to witness it in person.

“The guys like to hang out with him, not just here, but off the field, some guys are more social than others, he’s more a social person, I think the players enjoy hanging out with him.”

While Dickenson enjoys the social aspect of Dolegala’s temperament, he added that being sociable isn’t required to be a successful quarterback.

“What you need from quarterbacks is work ethic, toughness, and good decision making, and it helps if the players like you, I do think they like Jake.”

Emilus said one change in Dolegala’s demeanour in his second season in Saskatchewan is the quarterback’s confidence.

“Gets to his progression, more confident, and trusts us to make some plays.”

Against the Lions, Emilus made two highlight-reel plays with a leaping 46-yard catch, followed by a spectacular 37-yard touchdown catch. Watching the catch on film, The ex-Louisiana Tech Bulldog understood and appreciated the beauty of the reception.
“Cause when you’re on the field, you just be playing, you don’t know what is happening, I just saw the ball in the air and I was like let me just make a play and jump.”

The receiver added, “but after watching it on film and stuff, that’s when I got to see the details of it.”

Another Roughrider looking to get back into a rhythm after the bye week is kicker Brett Lauther. The 32-year-old enjoyed his time off and says it takes little time for a kicker to get back into the swing of things after a break.

“It’s week-to-week, kick-to-kick, it’s just what comes down to that moment.”

Lauther has been battling a leg injury but noted his health is improving as the Roughriders enter the back half of their schedule.

“A lot better than earlier on,” said Lauther. “Still got a couple of little things, nothing lower body, so I’m feeling pretty good.”

The Roughriders kicker felt more than good after the conclusion of the 2019 Labour Day Classic against the Blue Bombers after he delivered a walk-off field goal, giving the Roughriders a 19-17 win over Winnipeg.

He’s hoping history repeats itself this week, at least in terms of the Roughriders picking up a big win over their prairie rivals.

Practice Notebook

Dolegala took the lion’s share of the snaps with the offence at QB on Wednesday.
Dickenson said QB Mason Fine won’t be in the Roughriders lineup on Sunday. Fine was not at practice on Wednesday and was placed on the six-game injured list before the Riders win against BC.
Eric Lofton and Brandon Council split the reps at left tackle on Wednesday. Council was a full participant after he missed the last three games (knee).
DB Amari Henderson returned to practice after he left the game against the Lions following a scary landing while attempting to knock .
Absent from practice were DB CJ Reavis (hamstring), DB Nelson Lokombo (knee) and LB Justin Herdman-Reed (knee).

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