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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

CARTER TO START AT CORNER AGAINST STAMPS

Duron Carter on Wednesday
REGINA - Duron Carter's punishment for getting into an altercation with a teammate this week will be more playing time.

A lot more.

Head coach/GM Chris Jones revealed Wednesday that Carter will see action on both sides of the ball Friday night when Saskatchewan visit the Calgary Stampeders. Carter practiced as a cornerback with the starting defence Wednesday as well as with the second-team offence.

"Guys, he is going to be playing a lot of football. Okay?" Jones said. "I mean, he is going to be a tired young man after this football game. So, that's all it is. That's where he's going to play. You're going to see him out there a bunch."

Jones said Carter - the team's leading receiver - will also see action on the offensive side of the ball but the plan is for him to start at corner.

"Will he play every snap on offense? No." Jones continued. "Will he play every defensive snap? No. But he's going to play a lot of football."

Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell cautioned Carter about getting comfortable lining up opposite of a Stampeders' receiver.

"Don't do it Duron .. you'll get 25 balls thrown at you,'' Mitchell tweeted.

Carter is Saskatchewan's receiving leader with 1,037 yards from 72 catches with eight TDs. It marks the first time in four CFL seasons Carter has cracked the 1,000-yard plateau.

But the six-foot-five, 205-pound Carter - whose father, Cris, is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame - is being pressed into duty on defence because of injuries to defensive backs Sam Williams - who's listed on Saskatchewan's practice roster - Kacy Rodgers II and Chris Lyles. As well, veteran defensive back Otha Foster III is on the six-game injured list.

Carter has never started on defence but has seen action in the secondary. He played there Saskatchewan's 41-8 win over the B.C. Lions on Aug. 13 as well as its 27-24 road win over the Toronto Argonauts on Oct. 7.

On Monday, Carter and Williams were involved in an altercation. There were reports a coach encouraged Carter and Williams to continue fighting and that once the melee ended that Carter and fellow receiver Bakari Grant - who tried to break things up - wouldn't play another game this season with the Riders and the club was making arrangements to fly them both out of Regina.

On Tuesday, Jones acknowledged an incident occurred between Carter and Williams but downplayed the significance of it. Jones wouldn't comment on a coach's reported involvement in the altercation or what, if any, discipline would come as a result.

Friday night's game is important for both teams.

Calgary (13-1-1) can clinch first in the West Division with a victory while Saskatchewan (8-6) could cement a playoff berth with a victory. The Stampeders are 2-0 this season versus the Riders and riding an 11-game win streak.

Calgary has been unbeatable at home of late, having won its last 17 straight games at McMahon Stadium. The Stampeders are also 7-0 within the West Division while Saskatchewan is 3-5.

(With files from the Canadian Press)

10 THINGS I THINK I THINK FOR UNIVERSAL COLLISION CENTRE

1 - CARTER GATE: It's clear we'll never know all the details surrounding Monday's Rider practice fight between Duron Carter and Sam Williams. That's fine because it's "internal" but the team wants it made clear that Duron is NOT the bad guy in all this. There have been several reports that Carter has rubbed some of his teammates the wrong way but, hey, I know there were players on the Regina Pats who didn't care for Jordan Eberle back in the day. Meh. You can't please everybody.

2 - MORE ON CARTER: If you go by the adage, "Judge people by the way they treat you", then I have nothing but great things to say about Duron Carter. It's clear by watching him play that he's just out there having a blast. He's never been in trouble away from the field - in fact he's sensational in the community - so there's a lot here that simply doesn't add up. To this point he's been a tremendous addition to the football club.

3 - STILL MORE: TSN and Sportsnet have both reported that Monday's fight was either "encouraged" or "orchestrated" by the Rider coaching staff. I find that hard to believe and saw no evidence of it  And, frankly, if that were the case, then why not wait until Tuesday's closed practice where the tussle could've been staged behind locked gates? Again, a lot is not adding up but if this team needed a shake-up, they got it.

4 - "TEACHABLE MOMENTS": I love this new buzz word in sports for "mistakes". There were a lot of teachable moments in last week's 33-32 home loss to Ottawa but I saw a silver lining in it all. This team will NOT take its eye off the ball the rest of the way, and in the CFL Playoffs. Chris Jones seemed to see a letdown like this coming by telling his players, "Don't read your press clippings". But they did and just like we learned in 4H, you have to learn to do by doing. The best part about a mistake is the opportunity to try it again.

5 - BETTER SAFE: Rider fans were alarmed when they saw security personnel armed with assault rifles at Friday's game. That was a first for little ol' Saskatchewan. But rather than being afraid, that should make you feel SAFER! However it sucks that terrorism is now on our doorstep.

6 - WELCOME BACK GETZ: Having Chris Getzlaf back in the proper Green & White just feels right. Who knows how much gas he has left in the tank but he's appeared lightning fast in practice this week. His wisdom and talents may just be what the doctor ordered for the Riders during the stretch drive and playoffs. See: Jason Clermont and Geroy Simon.

7 - BRRRRRR: It was a chilly one at Friday's Rider game and Captain Obvious says it's going to get a whole lot colder. However it was pointed out that if the CFL is going to make the wise decision to avoid NFL Sundays in the fall then, late Friday and Saturday night games are going to be the consequence. So bundle up, and then enjoy the couch on Sundays. Clearly we can't have it both ways.

8 - VIVA LAS VEGAS: A guy named "Wolfy" asked me this week if I was surprised at the record-setting start by the Vegas Golden Knights out of the gate. Of course I had to say no, and you've read why over the past several weeks in this space. They look as fast as any team. An NHL scout told me recently that the VGK braintrust of McPhee, Gallant, et al have earned the right not to be questioned and now here they stand atop the Western Conference with 10 points. Now about those Oilers...

9 - GO PATS GO: The Regina Pats are 5-4-1 and host the Brandon Wheat Kings on Wednesday. (I'll have the TV call with Martin Smith and Darren Dupont on Access at 7 pm). The club is finding its way but, at this point, clearly isn't the special team that won 52 games last year. But they turn it on when they need to, and will be fine. As a side note, fans sure seem to love the 4:00 pm starts on Sunday because the arena was jammed for Sunday's 3-2 OT win over Edmonton. Whomever came up with that idea should take a bow.

10 - LOCALLY: The Regina Thunder visit the Saskatoon Hilltops in the PFC Final on Sunday in another chapter in their storied rivalry. The two clubs split the season series and there will be a huge contingent of Regina football fans headed to SMF Field for the clash ... Meanwhile the U of R Rams (4-2) host the Calgary Dinos on Saturday at 2:00 at Mosaic Stadium. With a playoff berth already clinched, Steve Bryce's club will be looking to fine tune against the top team in the conference.

Y'er welcome,
RP
@rodpedersen

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

CALMER HEADS PREVAIL

Duron Carter and Chris Jones on Tuesday
REGINA - The Saskatchewan Roughriders are throwing a challenge flag on speculation that star receiver Duron Carter is on his way out of town after a fight at practice.

Head coach and general manager Chris Jones said there was an altercation Monday but won't give any more details, saying "that's football.''

"There's altercations at football practices and that's what happened. I mean it's a violent sport and that's what went on,'' Jones told reporters Tuesday at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

"There have been fights broke out everywhere I've ever been. In fact some of the better teams that we had. I can remember Dwight Anderson and Brandon Browner (with the 2008 Calgary Stampeders) fighting four times on day four and we won the Grey Cup, so no it doesn't concern me in the least.''

Reports emerged that some players and coaches were being released or suspended after the fight.

But Jones said Carter remains with the CFL team.

He also wouldn't comment on disciplinary action.

"We're not going to sit here and just harp on something that was blown up quite honestly on Twitter,'' said Jones. "Football is a violent sport. We practise it hard. There's going to be altercations and that's the end of the story.''

The speculation about Carter's future was fuelled by Carter's own tweet Monday in which he said "It was fun while it lasted... love y'all.''

Veteran cornerback Jovon Johnson then tweeted that defensive back Sam Williams "did something unacceptable that triggered it.'' But Johnson also tweeted that "it truly wasn't that freaking serious!''

Johnson, who is one of the team captains, said he was trying to give some perspective without getting into details.

"There is a lot of stuff that people were talking about, that they didn't know what they were talking about,'' he said after practice Tuesday.

"It's definitely been blown out of proportion.''

Williams was not at practice Tuesday, but Johnson said Williams was sick that morning and it had nothing to do with the incident.

Carter, who was at practice Tuesday, said the fight was over "some football stuff.''

"That's how it goes down. You know guys get heated and words are said and then it's punches I guess,'' said Carter.

Carter also said he's getting off of Twitter to focus on a playoff run.

It's not the first time Carter has been in a ruckus in the Canadian Football League.

In 2016, when Carter was with the Montreal Alouettes, the CFL suspended him for one game for his part in a wild melee against the Ottawa Redblacks.

As Carter walked by the Ottawa bench after a touchdown, he bumped into Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell, knocking him over. The Redblacks rushed to Campbell's defence, throwing slaps and shots at Carter, who continued his celebration straight through the Ottawa bench area to his own bench, which was on the same side of the field.

Carter was released by Montreal in October 2016 after a feud with quarterback Rakeem Cato. He signed with the Riders in January 2017.

(Canadian Press)

*UPDATED* MONDAY RIDER PRACTICE REPORT


REGINA - The Roughriders returned to the practice field on Monday for the first time since Friday's 33-32 home loss to the Ottawa RedBlacks.

Here are some notes:

- The team officially announced on Monday morning that 11-year veteran Canadian receiver Chris Getzlaf has signed a practice roster contract with the club. Getzlaf said it "couldn't feel better" to be back with his hometown team. The 34-year old revealed that he asked for his release from the Edmonton Eskimos two weeks ago and has been in Regina ever since.

- Rider Coach Chris Jones said Getzlaf approached the team and "wanted to be a part of what we're doing."

- Getzlaf wore #71 in practice on Monday, which was his original number with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during training camp in 2007. He said he doesn't plan on asking veteran Rider receiver Duron Carter to give up his traditional #89.

- Chris Jones revealed after practice that leading rusher Cameron Marshall will return to the backfield after missing several weeks due to injury. Meanwhile Chad Owens lined up at slotback in place of the injured Naaman Roosevelt on Monday. Jones said that's likely the way things will go in Friday's game at Calgary.

- Jones also confirmed that left guard Derek Dennis will miss this game with a back injury and his absence means veteran lineman Dan Clark will be activated for the Calgary game.

- Regarding Friday's 33-32 loss to Ottawa in which the Riders blew a 12-point lead with five minutes to go, Jones said, "I've got to do a better job managing the game. You can put this one on me."

- TSN's Dave Naylor said on SportsCentre Monday night that the Riders confirmed an altercation involving receiver Duron Carter during Monday's practice.  There were rumours floating in the afternoon that three players have been released but the team says those rumours are false. Naylor reported that Chris Jones will speak to the matter on Tuesday.

- I saw the whole skirmish and it was no different than the hundreds of others I've seen over the years.

- Veteran Rider cornerback Jovon Johnson Tweeted Monday evening: "There was an altercation at practice (and) tempers flared. It's football! Truly doesn't deserve the type of attention it's received. It truly wasn't that freaking serious! Nor is any of the allegationst true! So let us focus and do our jobs and stop spreading rumours!"

RP
@rodpedersen

Monday, October 16, 2017

OUT OF THE TUNNEL FOR PIZZA, PIZZA


By: RodPedersen.com Staff

As we head Out of the Tunnel this Monday morning, I’m sure Rider fans are still wondering, “What the heck happened Friday night?”

If you were told that the Green & White were in the redzone nine times and only punted twice all game, it would be safe to assume that would be enough for the win. But (we offer you the saying that everything said before “BUT” is B.S.) of those nine entries into the red zone, the result was only a pair of touchdowns, six field goals and a Jonathan Rose interception in the end zone. It all added up to a 33-32 comeback win for Ottawa over Saskatchewan.

Granted that's still 32 points, and for as well as the Rider defence has played the last couple of months, it should have been enough to seal the victory against a Redblacks team that will finish the season under .500.

So, what did happen? Simply put, the Riders couldn’t cash in on their multiple opportunities and allowed Ottawa to hang on like grim death for three-and-a-half quarters before finally coming alive late in the fourth.

Ottawa is much better than their 7-9-1 record states and are looking more like the defending Grey Cup champs than they did when the Riders visited Ottawa just a few weeks back. Quarterback Trevor Harris returned to form in the second half and looked fully recovered from a shoulder injury he suffered on September 9th against Hamilton.

The Redblacks were able to protect Harris, they took some chances (Brett Maher’s successful fake punt), converted on every opportunity given to them (interception return for a TD) and in the end the Riders didn’t step on Ottawa’s throat when they had the chance.

Let’s hope this is a tough lesson that the Green & White will learn from.

To be successful in the final three games of the regular season and into the playoffs, if the opportunity to put a team away is presented to them, THEY MUST take advantage of it.

It is not all doom and gloom for the Riders. All they need is a win or a B.C. loss and they return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Plus, the offence is looking like it’s starting to get back into form and the special teams look great.

The remaining three games will be a great litmus test of where this team is at heading into the post-season. It starts Friday night in Calgary. The last time the Riders visited the Stampeders, it was a nightmare. The 27-10 loss looked a lot better on the scoreboard than it should have. Kevin Glenn was sacked five times in the first half and the offence could generate just 252 total yards.

To knock off the Stampeders for the first time at home this season would send a message to the rest of the CFL that the Riders will be incredibly difficult to deal with in the playoffs.

GETZ IS BACK

Fans caught a glimpse of him on the field Friday night  wearing 84 and not the customary 89 during 2007 Grey Cup team celebrations. That was a bit of a throwback for Getzlaf as 84 was his number the first year he came to the Riders which coincidentally was the year they broke their lengthy Grey Cup drought. Fans will now get to see him back on the field for real as the Green & White signed the veteran receiver this weekend and should bolster a beat up Canadian receiving core. If he does see the field, it will be interesting to see what number he will wear because Duron Carter has put 89 to good use already this season.


CFL NOTEBOOK

- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers all but sewed up a home playoff date with their 26-20 victory over the B.C. Lions on Saturday, but it wasn’t all rosy. Maurice Leggett will be out the for the rest of the season with a torn Achilles suffered when he recovered a short kick at the tail end of the game. The 31-year-old linebacker was more than likely going to be their team nominee for defensive MVP and will be a huge hole to fill for the Bombers.

- It’s all but over for the Lions but it’s not their defence’s fault. They held Matt Nichols and the Bomber offence out of the end zone and limited them to just 262 total yards. After the roaring start the Lions had to the season, there will be a lot of questions for Wally Buono to answer about his team in this off-season.

- The Edmonton Eskimos are now winners of back-to-back games with their 30-27 road win in Toronto. Mike Reilly now has a full assortment of tools at his disposal. With Derel Walker returning to form after his NFL shot, Brandon Zylstra turning into one of the top young receivers in the game and the addition of C.J. Gable to the backfield have been a boon for the offence. The glaring omission is Adarius Bowman. The veteran receiver has just 29 catches for 293 yards this season with just a single 100-yard effort.

PFC WRAP

It was a wild semi-final Sunday in the PFC and when the dust settled, it will be an all-Saskatchewan final.

The Regina Thunder went on the road and upset the Edmonton Huskies 24-21 at Clarke Park in Edmonton. Regina trailed 11-4 after the first half but outpaced the Huskies in the second half to get to their fourth PFC Championship game.

They will face the Saskatoon Hilltops who outlasted the visiting Winnipeg Rifles 28-21. Logan Fischer led the way for the Hilltops with 105 yards on the ground in the victory.

This is Saskatoon’s 11th-straight PFC final and the fourth time they will face the Thunder. The last time was in 2013 when Regina won 21-16 en route to their only Canadian Bowl title.


CANADA WEST DIARY

The Regina Rams (4-2) needed a little extra time, but in the end, they clinched a playoff berth with a 58-55 victory over a much improving Alberta Golden Bears team. Atlee Simon ran roughshod over the Golden Bear defence with 206 yards rushing and a touchdown while adding another 59 yards receiving and two more scores. Ed Ilnicki matched Simon on the ground with 201 yards rushing for Alberta (who fell to 1-5 with the loss).

It was too little too late for the Saskatchewan Huskies. The UBC Thunderbirds held off the visiting Huskies 29-25 despite letting up 23-fourth quarter points. Michael O’Connor threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns in the winning effort. With the victory, UBC (4-2) stays tied with the Rams for second in the Canada West, while the Huskies (2-4) dropped their fourth in a row and are just one game ahead of both the Manitoba Bisons and Alberta Golden Bears for fourth.

The Manitoba Bisons (1-5) gave the number two team in the country all they could handle, but in the end, the Calgary Dinos (6-0) escaped Winnipeg with the 36-27 victory. Manitoba led 27-20 heading into the fourth quarter, but it was all Calgary in the final frame with 16-straight points. Defence led the way for Canada West’s top team with four sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

This week:
Saturday, October 21st (All times local):
UBC at Manitoba 2:00pm
Saskatchewan at Alberta 1:00pm
Calgary at Regina 2:00pm

A CANADIAN TO WATCH IN THE NCAA
Brendan O’Leary-Orange – Rec
University of Nevada
6’4” 210lbs.
Hometown – Toronto, Ont.
Class – Rs-Soph.

After seeing limited action as a redshirt freshman, O’Leary-Orange is having a solid sophomore year with the Wolfpack. The Toronto native broke out Saturday night in a 44-42 loss to Colorado State. He had four catches for 111-yards and his first NCAA touchdown.

Brendan has a great football pedigree. His father, Doyle O’Leary-Orange played in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Ti-Cats.

(RodPedersen.com Staff)