Things have been up and down for Saskatchewan Roughriders left guard Evan Johnson over the last two weeks.
It began with an euphoric high at the Labour Day Classic on Sept. 3, when the Regina product helped Saskatchewan defeat Winnipeg 32-30 in overtime, despite battling a visible lower body injury in the second half of the game. Johnson said he was doing everything in his power to remain on the field for an important game.
“It’s a game obviously as a team, especially us hometown guys get excited for,” said Johnson, “I was able to stay in the game, kind of grind through that, finish the game, win the game more importantly.”
The Roughriders were down to five offensive linemen that night after they lost right tackle Colin Kelly to a knee injury earlier in the game.
But due to the injury he suffered in the Labour Day Classic, Johnson was forced to miss the rematch against the Blue Bombers.
His absence this past week marked the first time the former University of Saskatchewan Huskie has missed a game as a member of the green and white, which was a different experience for him.
“It was tough, I missed one play last year.” The CFL veteran mentioned that he has not missed a game since 2018 when he played for Ottawa REDBLACKS.
Head Coach Craig Dickenson was happy to have Johnson back on the field on Tuesday and stated that the team would gradually reintegrate him into the lineup, with the hope of him returning to a starting position on Friday.
Philip Blake was also back at practice, working with the second group of offensive linemen. The 37-year-old has been out of the Saskatchewan lineup for the entire regular season after he suffered a torn pectoral injury at the end of training camp.
Johnson feels Blake’s presence is a big benefit to the team, even though the Canadian veteran is not back in the lineup quite yet.
“Not only boost the guys, but also challenge the guys too.” Johnson explained, “Push for a starting spot too cause he’s obviously a talented player, so he’s kind of elevating of all our games out here, making sure we’re all ready to go.”
After spending the last two weeks facing off with a veteran-laden Blue Bomber squad, the Roughriders will welcome a young and hungry Edmonton Elks team to Mosaic Stadium on Friday night.
Despite Saskatchewan picking up a pair of victories against the Elks earlier this season, Johnson is expecting a tough matchup from Edmonton.
“They’re at full strength, they’re looking good, they’ve developed the last time we played them.”
The Elks have won three of their last four games after starting the year dropping their first nine games.
Johnson is excited for this week’s matchup against Edmonton to be played under the prime-time lights at home.
“There’s no place like home (chuckling), We’re excited about getting back out in front of our home crowd, we feel we do have a nice home field advantage here, especially with the fans, the atmosphere that is created in the stadium.”
Coverage of Friday’s game on 620 CKRM begins with Countdown to Kickoff at 4:30, the opening kickoff is set for 7:30.
- There were four quarterbacks on the field for Saskatchewan, with Mason Fine and Shea Patterson splitting the reps with the second string offence. Dickenson said the team is still determining the pecking order for the QBs behind Jake Dolegala.
- DE Pete Robertson was back on the field after missing last week due to his one-game suspension.
- Absent from practice included DE Anthony Lanier II (non-football related and DB Deontai Williams (hamstring).