Opportunity Caught: Bane Jr. and Emilus making the most of their chance with the Roughriders in 2023

There has been plenty of doom and gloom surrounding the Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-11) during the 2023 regular season, with the team amidst a six-game losing streak and battling for their playoff lives ahead of their final game of the year.

But there have been a few bright spots on the squad. Linebacker Larry Dean reached the 100+ tackle mark for the third time in his career last week in Calgary. Only six other players in Canadian Football League (CFL) history had accomplished the feat.

During their final regular season game on Saturday, a few Roughriders can reach certain milestones when they face the Toronto Argonauts.

Running back Jamal Morrow is 114 rushing yards away from his first 1,000-yard season in the CFL. Morrow has already surpassed his career-high of 666, which he set in 2022.

Saskatchewan also has a pair of receivers who could surpass the 1,000 receiving yard total on Saturday, Shawn Bane Jr. and Samuel Emilus.

Both players are within striking distance, with Bane Jr. at 968 yards and Emilus at 960.

There were plenty of questions about the green and white receiving group entering the season, but led by Bane Jr. and Emilus, the position has become a strength for the Roughriders.

Head Coach Craig Dickenson feels the players and coaches have been a big part of the position’s success.

“We’ve stayed relatively healthy which has helped,” said Dickenson. “Drew Tate and Naaman Roosevelt have really coached up that group well.”

as Saskatchewan Roughriders take on the Edmonton Elks in CFL action in Regina, SK, July 6, 2023. Photo Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards

Reaching 1,000 yards has plenty of meaning for Bane Jr.

“For me, it’s the milestone, 1,000 yards,” the receiver added, “that’s a lot of running.”

There is also a chance for the 28-year-old to finish on top of one category.

Entering Week 20, Bane Jr. leads in the CFL in receptions (85).

Quarterback Jake Dolegala is confident that each player will hit their milestone on Saturday.

“It’ll be great, we’ll get it done.”

In his sophomore season in Saskatchewan, Emilus has become one of the main targets of the offence.

WR Samuel Emilus Photo: Blaine Weyland

The Roughriders 2021 first-round draft pick says 1,000 yards is a meaningful number for him as a player.

“Coming out at the season I wasn’t expecting this.”

One of the goals for the Montreal product was to become an established player in the league.

“It comes to the off-season work I did and now it’s paying off.”

Dickenson believes Emilus just needed a chance to succeed.

“He was always good, when we put him out there, he showed what player he was, he’s outstanding.”

Bane Jr. also believed all he needed was an opening that he received in Saskatchewan.

“I’ve always been working behind the scenes, I’ve always done the extra, I guess it was my time this year I guess.”

If either Bane Jr. or Emilus can eclipse the 1,000-yard mark, it would be the first time a Roughrider receiver reached the mark since 2017, when three players (Bakari Grant, Naaman Roosevelt, and Duron Carter) surpassed the total.

The individual milestones may mean a lot to the players, but their main focus this week is to pick up a win against the Argonauts and possibly reach the playoffs if Calgary loses either of their final two games.

“I’m focusing on Toronto and helping the team win, “said Emilus.

Practice Notebook

K Brett Lauther and P Adam Korsak returned to practice on Wednesday after missing Tuesday’s workout.

LB T.J. Brunson was also back practicing after missing last week’s game in Calgary.

Missing from practice was DB Jaxon Ford (hamstring), DB Jeremy Clark (knee), LB Jaylen Moody (knee).

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