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Sunday, July 27, 2014

MOSAIC PLACE RECAP: RIDERS 37 ARGOS 9


REGINA (CP) - Will Ford wasn't sure if he'd be the Saskatchewan Roughriders' starting running back when he signed with the CFL club earlier in the week.

But after a three-touchdown performance Saturday night to lead the Riders over the visiting Toronto Argonauts 37-9 at Mosaic Stadium, Ford made a strong case for himself.

An East Division All-Star with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2013, Ford says he came to Regina ready for any chance he'd get.

"Opportunities are limited, so you've got to take advantage of them no matter what,'' he said. "I came here to work and put the team in a position to win.''

The newly signed running back scored first-half touchdowns of 20, three and two yards in his debut for Saskatchewan (2-2), while running for a total of 113 yards. He also had 24 receiving yards.

Ford's three touchdowns on the ground were one shy of the single-game franchise record held by Ferd Burket, Milson Jones and George Reed.

The injury-depleted Argonauts (1-4) meanwhile, dropped their third straight game. Toronto's lone victory came against the Riders at Rogers Centre in Week 2.

As good as Ford was in his debut, Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant held off on referring to him as the team's "answer at running back.''

"Man, you can never crown anyone off of one game - it's a long way to go,'' said Durant, who connected on nine of 17 pass attempts for 155 yards and an interception. "I think Will still has some improving to do ... He did a great job of running the ball in key situations.

"But we all have to pick our game up.''

Ford echoed his quarterback's words.

"It's going to take time,'' he said. "I've got a few mistakes that I've got to work on. I stay down on myself when I make mistakes. I'm going to watch film, correct those mistakes and see what happens.''

Roughriders coach Corey Chamblin said he wasn't expecting a perfect game from Ford.

"He hadn't even been close to a training camp for us,'' Chamblin said of his new running back. "Just throwing him in there, we expected some mistakes.  But we just wanted to play fast in spite of it, and I thought the guys did that.''

Durant surpassed the 2,500 career rushing yards mark, picking up 28 yards on the ground and running in a touchdown during the game.

Argos quarterback Ricky Ray, meanwhile, was 23-of-35 passing for 221 yards and two interceptions. Toronto backup Trevor Harris completed 8-of-12 passes for 80 yards.

While Durant and Ford took care of the offence, Saskatchewan's defence also played its part, stifling Ray and the Argos throughout the game.

Toronto running back Curtis Steele was held to just 32 yards on the ground on seven carries. Maurice Mann led Argos receivers with 62 yards.

Tyron Brackenridge intercepted Ray on his first pass attempt of the night, and Tearrius George forced and recovered a Ray fumble when the Argonauts returned to the field - the second of six turnovers forced by Saskatchewan.

The Riders also forced Toronto to punt on four second-quarter possessions. Mark Legree notched a late second-half interception, shortly before the half ended with the Riders up 28-6.

Roughriders kicker Chris Milo nailed a 39-yard field goal in the third quarter, and booted field goals from 38 and 43 yards in the fourth.

Toronto kicker Swayze Waters replied with field goals of 17, 16 and 40 yards for the only Argos points of the game.

Durant opened the scoring, taking advantage of the Brackenridge interception with a 10-yard touchdown run on the Riders' first possession.

Ford scored his first touchdown two minutes later to give the Riders a 14-0 edge.

Waters replied with two field goals to get the Argos to within eight points as the first quarter drew to a close.

Ford's second TD made it a 21-6 game less than a minute into the second quarter, and his third two minutes later gave the Riders a 28-6 advantage.

The Riders visit the Ottawa Redblacks Saturday while the Argos host the Montreal Alouettes on Friday.


TICATS 33 REDBLACKS 23

HAMILTON, Ont. (CP) - Dan LeFevour stole the spotlight from Henry Burris on Saturday night.

LeFevour threw for 361 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a game-high 109 yards and a TD in his first CFL start, leading the Hamilton Tiger-Cats past the Ottawa Redblacks 33-23.

Burris was making his first appearance in Hamilton since being released by the club in January after it signed Zach Collaros as a free agent. Burris served as the Ticats starter for two seasons and led the squad to a Grey Cup appearance last year while also tutoring LeFevour.

Although LeFevour spoiled Burris's return, LeFevour downplayed any suggestion the game was about the quarterbacks.

"It had nothing to do with him,'' LeFevour said. "It was just good to see him.

"I talked to him during the week and after the game ... he was encouraging me. He's a great guy, he really is.''

LeFevour, 27, was an impressive dual threat for Hamilton (1-3). He completed 21-of-30 passes while also running 13 times, his one-yard TD at 9:44 of the fourth snapping a 23-23 tie. The big play was LeFevour hitting C.J. Gable on an 83-yard screen pass that, with a horse-tackle penalty, put the Ticats at the Ottawa one-yard line to the delight of the Ron Joyce Stadium sellout of 6,500.

"You saw what a competitor he is,'' Hamilton coach/GM Kent Austin said. "Real strong will to win, threw the ball well.

"Early on he pulled the ball down a little too soon but finally settled in and let the game come to him some more. He just really had a command of the offence.''

For the first time this season, Gable was a key figure in Hamilton's offence. The speedy running back ran six times for 62 yards and a TD while adding three catches for a team-high 105 yards as the Ticats rolled up 558 total offensive yards.

Burris, 39, finished 27-of-44 passing for 290 yards and two TDs and an interception while throwing his first interception of the season. Ottawa (1-3) pulled into a 23-23 tie on Brett Maher's 23-yard field goal at 4:41 of the fourth.

"He did a good job,'' Burris said of LeFevour. "He ran the offence, got the ball to his playmakers and made some plays.

"I'm proud of him. I just wish he would've saved that for another night but kudos to him.''

Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell said LeFevour's legs were key to Hamilton's victory.

"He's a runner, if you give him escape lanes he makes you pay,'' Campbell said. "We were trying to get him to hold the ball, which he did a couple of times, but he made some plays with his feet ... then we gave up some huge plays.

"Him and Gable, they're good athletes and you've got to be right on those guys because they make big plays.''

The Redblacks were coming off their first-ever win, an 18-17 home decision against Toronto last week, and Marcus Henry certainly did his part with 10 catches for 138 yards and a TD. But Burris said his club hurt itself against the Ticats.

"We found ways to hurt ourselves,'' he said. "We had more opportunities to put more points on the board.

"This was one of those matches where the last offence that had the ball was going to win the game. Hamilton did a good job of making big plays, we didn't make enough big plays. We can't be shooting ourselves in the foot in those key situations.''

The game was the Ticats' home opener and their first in Hamilton in 21 months as last year's home contests were played at the University of Guelph while Tim Hortons Field was being built. Saturday's contest was supposed to open Tim Hortons Field but construction delays will force the team to play at least its first two home games at McMaster.

Hamilton hosts the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday night.

Brandon Banks had Hamilton's other touchdown. Medlock added the converts and four field goals.

Matt Carter scored Ottawa's other touchdown. Maher had the converts and three field goals.

Medlock's 36-yard field goal capped an entertaining first half and earned Hamilton a 20-17 advantage. It was set up by Craig Butler's interception that put the Ticats at their own 45-yard line.

The contest began at a fever pitch with TDs on the first three possessions.

Banks took LeFevour's shovel pass 53 yards for the score on the second play from scrimmage just 58 seconds in before Burris countered with a smart 13-play, 96-yard march he capped with a 10-yard TD toss to Carter at 7:35. But Gable's 47-yard touchdown run on the Ticats fifth offensive play at 9:29 put them ahead 14-7 as they opened by gaining 158 yards on their first five plays.

NOTES - LeFevour became the Ticats third different starter this year after Collaros (head injury) and Jeremiah Masoli started the earlier contests ... Saturday's game was the first between Hamilton and Ottawa since Oct. 21, 2005 when the Ticats downed the former Renegades 40-32 ... Ottawa entered weekend action tied atop the East Division with Toronto and Montreal. The last time an Ottawa club was first in the East was Aug. 19, 2005 when the Renegades were 5-3 but they lost their next six games to fall from playoff contention ... Ottawa's scratches were defensive lineman Nigel Romick and tackle Nate Menkin while Hamilton`s were receiver Greg Ellingson and defensive lineman Arnaud Gascon-Nadon.

SUNDAY SPORTS

Running back Will Ford made the most of his Saskatchewan Roughriders debut. Ford ran for three touchdowns as the Riders dominated the visiting Toronto Argonauts 37-9 Saturday night. His three rushing TD's were one shy of the franchise record for a single game. Toronto, meanwhile, dropped its third straight game to fall to 1-4 on the season.  The Riders are 2-2 heading to Ottawa in Week 6.

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Henry Burris will have to wait another day for revenge. Burris and the Ottawa Redblacks lost 33-23 to Hamilton on Saturday. Burris led the Tiger-Cats to a Grey Cup appearance last year but was disappointed to be released in the off-season. The Ticats meanwhile earned their first victory of the season.

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The Canadian Open could once again belong to Jim Furyk. He's three strokes ahead with one round left at Royal Montreal. Furyk is chasing a third title at the tournament. Canada's Graham DeLaet trails by seven strokes.

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The Blue Jays are still neck and neck with the Yankees for an American League wild-card spot. Toronto defeated New York 6-4 to pull back even with their division rivals for second place behind AL East leading Baltimore. The Jays and Yankees are also tied for the second wild-card berth. The L-A Angels have a firm grasp on the other wild card.

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Baseball's best team battered a slumping division rival. Oakland hit four home runs in a six-batter span en route to a 5-1 win over Texas. Elsewhere in the majors, Colorado clobbered Pittsburgh 8-1, Arizona needed 10 innings to beat Philly 10-6 and Atlanta defeated San Diego 5-3.

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Robbie Lawler will get another shot at UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. Lawler defeated Matt Brown in a unanimous decision to earn a rematch less than a year after a close loss to Hendricks. The fight will likely happen next year with Hendricks nursing an arm injury.

(Canadian Press)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

MULLINDER'S RIDERS-ARGOS PRIMER

By: Luc Mullinder

I’d start this piece off by spending a whole paragraph telling you that the Argos are a wounded duck, and Saskatchewan is about to go Zero Dark Thirty and put 'em out of their misery.  Lesson learned folks.  The last time I thought the Riders would win big over Ricky Ray's double blue, I was about as upset as one of the those classy women on Maury Povich, who finds out that the 4th guy they’ve brought on the DNA show is “…NOT…the FATHER” of their baby.

No Chad Owens, no Andre Durie, and no one else stepping up offensively last game is obviously frustrating for a football mind like Scott Milanovich.  Even though they have no fans to feel sorry for them at the moment, I’m sure that they’ll come into Mosaic Stadium with something up their sleeve. (8:00 pm tonight, TSN, CKRM)

To be candid, the Riders aren’t in the shape they would like to be in, going into the fourth game of the year.  Will Ford will be the 3rd starting running back in as many games, Dan Clark will be starting at centre, and there are a few guys on the roster that really needed to get their minds right over the bye week.

Regardless of the score the last time these two teams met (48-15), I still think that our side has the better players when you compare them across the board.  The Riders just have to come out and execute.  That may be the most frustrating thing over the course of this young season.  The execution has not been there…

No better time to start, than against a team that has resorted to pulling Maurice Mann off the street after two years, and giving him the start.  #SeeYaHamstrings

Offense:

Dan Clark

“Touchdown Dan” has done everything that has been asked of him since the day he stepped onto the field here for the Riders.  He sat on the practise roster for more years than he would have liked, and never folded.  He’s been an afterthought in some coach’s minds, and he’s never wavered.  There have been plenty of people that have questioned his size and skill, and he’s adapted.  Against the Argos, Clark will get the chance to anchor our offensive line, which is no small task.  Clark hasn’t played one down at the center spot this year, and did it scarcely during camp in Saskatoon.  Either way, there is a reason why George Cortez is so comfortable with Clark snapping the ball so let’s just leave it at that.  Dan is a physical player, and runs his feet well on contact.

One hurdle that Clark will have to overcome is the fact that he is now accountable for the getting the entire O-line on the same page.  The centre in any offense is responsible for pointing out key pieces of information such as where the middle linebacker is, or where the protection responsibilities are.  Luckily this is a group that Clark has been a part of for awhile now, so some of that stress should be alleviated.  The way in which centres in the CFL see the game come at them is also different from #67’s usual post at TE.  Tim Burke is a Coordinator who likes to keep his defensive lines active, and Clark's gotta be prepared for different interior stunts and twists.  This year, although they aren’t flashy, the Argos defensive front looks like the strongest unit of their D.

It sounds crazy, but the most important thing that Clark has to do on Saturday, may also sound like the easiest task…snap the ball.  Clark needs the composure to get the ball into #4’s hands cleanly and efficiently.  Our offense requires the QB at the shotgun spot or under centre, at any rate, for a team that has been underperforming as of late, an errant snap on the ground or over the head of Doubles will be an absolute disaster.  I know that his teammates have confidence in Clark, hopefully you will too Ridernation, this kids been busting his tail for you and his family since he buckled his chinstrap for the first time.

Dan Depalma #82

•        Dan Depalma may make an impact sort of the way he has hit the scene here in Regina…quietly.  The West Chester alum sort of snuck into camp in Saskatoon at the last minute and hasn’t been mentioned a lot since.

Now when I say he might have a quiet impact, I don’t mean that he won’t do anything, I mean that the Argos may not notice him until it's too late!  The coaches are high on Depalma and he looks good out there in practise, but as we know, looking good in practise means nothing *see Eron Riley*.

There’s not a whole lot of film on him as yet, but his game looks to be similar to that of another newcomer, Brett Swain.  He seems to understand the waggle and how it plays into the CFL game, more importantly he runs solid routes and has apparently convinced the brass that he has caught onto the playbook.  There’s no replacing Chris Getzlaf in this offence but the Riders really have to find another guy to catch the rock, until Getty is 100% healthy.

Teams know that Taj Smith is Durant's security blanket and they are going to start keying on that relationship during big downs.  Finding Rob Bagg opportunities is going to have to become a priority, but the opposition knows that as well.  Swain has come along nicely, but hopefully Depalma can do enough that gives our franchise QB another solid option.

*Keep an eye out for Alex Pierchalski #85.  It’s tough to say where he fits into the game plan against TO, but he will get to fly down during special teams reps and hopefully be given a couple opportunities during offensive possessions.  He got better every day during camp and showed some flashes of ability during the two exhibition games.  He’s another raw talent like Dylan Ainsworth, but has a big upside.

Defence:

Marc Trestman says it best when it comes to Ricky Ray, “The Guys like Gumby out there!  Am I right??? It doesn’t matter what you do, he always manages to find a way to make it happen!”

Spot on Coach…

Ray is so annoying from a coordinator's view, because his accuracy rivals Butch Cassidy, and even when you do get the coverage right, he has the uncanny (and vastly underrated) ability to keep possession with his legs.  The guy literally has NOBODY to throw to right now, and yet just because he is Ricky Freakin' Ray, I have to sit here and honestly say that the Toronto offense still has a chance.

Milanovich has gotta keep Ray clean though.  They went to the double TE look consistently against Ottawa and it worked for them.  They also tried to use a ton of movement in and out of the backfield with Anthony Coombs.  This tests any defensive communication, but on film, that movement signified an effort to pass the ball and not run, so there’s something to key on.

Lets hope that Matt Sewell, the Argos new Left Tackle, is getting forced into action before he’s ready, and we can take advantage of his inexperience with our edge rushers.

Toronto’s other tackle Chris Van Zeyl is having a terrific season thus far.  He’s athletic and very big, but has improved his knee bend and punch, to where he doesn’t over extend and sacrifice his centre of gravity, as he used to early in his career.  I’m excited to see him and John Chic go at it, because John has developed a club down-to-grab/swim that may work well if Van Zeyl can’t reload his punch and get his head back up quick enough.

It’s hard to really say what to expect offensively from this Argo team on Saturday.  It’s like unveiling the newest Lamborghini at a car track, and then realizing nobody knows who’s got the ignition key to start it up.  Maybe that’s what makes the Argos dangerous at this point.

There’s a lot being talked about amongst the faithful fans in Rider Nation.  Many have questioned the way the coaching staff is handling the running back situation.  Fair enough.  I figured I would address the one theory that has been brought forth repeatedly…

Many of you seem to think that the very short leash the running backs are working with will cause the players to think too much about the repercussions of making a mistake, and hamper their ability to make a play.

I ask you to consider this, as a response:

“Do you really want a guy who thinks like that carrying the ball for you in the first place?”

I’m not sure what I think of the way the coaches are handling the running back carousel that seems to have popped up.  What I am sure of, is that the job will NEVER be won by a player that’s worried about what happens if he makes a mistake.  Nor do I want him to win the job.

The term “It is what it is” is the most appropriate phrase for this, and all other situations that come along with the business of pro sports.  In a world where everyone wants a definitive answer to everything, the sooner that you accept that Football is not the realm in which those answers come, the better off we’ll all be.

Right now, it seems to be a ‘one and done’ sort of deal at the RB spot.  If that’s the case, is any one of the running backs going to benefit from thinking of that idea right before the ball snaps?  Nope.  As a matter of fact, it’ll increase the likelihood of a costly mistake.  Just go out and ball.  If you can’t control the coaching scenario, why bother letting it affect you?

Also, it may not seem fair to you that a guy can literally get off the plane, and start for the defending CFL Champions, while others that have been here since training camp, have to wait.  “It is what it is.”

CFL contracts aren’t binding.  Anyone of those guys is welcome to leave at any given time, and there are no hard feelings involved.  There are thousands of guys lined up waiting for a call from a scout from an NFL or CFL squad.  Dan Clark is a perfect guy to use for this situation.  You think he enjoyed seeing Brendon Labatte being signed here as a free agent when he had been waiting in the wings?  Nope … But sometimes, the absolute easiest thing to do in a situation like that is quit.

The business that is Professional Football is not one for the weak minded.  If you want a good idea of what the ups and downs of the game is really like, then look no further than your starting Quarterback.  He’s been passed over, questioned, ridiculed and chastised by media and fans alike.

It’s absolutely true that this team needs to find a running back, and sooner rather than later.  Like I said, I’m not sure how the coaches are going to figure it all out, but I do know this…If there are players hitting the field, on Saturday, worried that a mistake may cost them their jobs, those weren’t the guys you wanted down the stretch anyways.  Pro football is a profession where your job is on the line every second of every minute.  Those who embrace that will be here.
Just another way of thinking, that’s all… It Is What It Is

#ProPerspective

ARGONAUTS AT ROUGHRIDERS PREVIEW


TORONTO (1-3) at SASKATCHEWAN (1-2)
8:00 pm, Saturday, Mosaic Stadium
TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network

RIDERS: Home 1-1, Vs East 1-1
ARGOS: Road 0-2, Vs West 1-2

RIDER OFFENSE: RUSH 1ST, PASS 6TH, OVERALL 5TH
QB Darian Durant is the CFL's 7th-leading passer (622 yds, 5 TDs, 4 INTs) ... RB Anthony Allen is 4th in CFL rushing (231 yds, 1 TD) ... WR Taj Smith leads the team in receiving (169 yds, 2 TDs) ... Riders are seventh in points scored and second in fewest sacks allowed.

ARGO OFFENSE: RUSH 7TH, PASS 1ST, OVERALL 1ST
QB Ricky Ray is the CFL's top passer (1280 yds, 6 TDs, 2 INTs) ... SB Chad Owens leads the league in receiving (339 yds, 1 TD) but is inactive ... Their leading rusher is RB Curtis Steele (97 yds, 2 TDs) ... Argos are third in points scored and third in fewest sacks

RIDER DEFENSE: RUSH 9TH, PASS 5TH, OVERALL 6TH
DE Ricky Foley leads the team in sacks (4) ... S Tyron Brackenridge has the team's lone interception ... LB Sam Hurl leads in tackles (14) ... Riders are 6th in points against and second in sacks (14).

ARGO DEFENSE: RUSH 6TH, PASS 8TH, OVERALL 9TH
DL T. Okpalaugo leads in sacks (4) ... LB Antu'wan Molden leads in interceptions (2) ... DB Jallil Cater leads in tackles (17) ... Argos are in points allowed and fourth in sacks (11).

RIDER SPECIAL TEAMS: K Chris Milo is 4/6 on FGs ... P Josh Bartel is 3rd in CFL punting (44.8) ... Marshay Green leads in PR and KR yards ... DE Dylan Ainsworth leads in ST tackles (5).

ARGO SPECIAL TEAMS: K/P Swayze Waters is 10/11 on FGs and #1 in punting (48.5) ... Chad Owens leads the team in PR yards and Brandon Smith leads in KR yards ... LB James Yurichuk leads in ST tackles (6).

INTANGIBLES:  Riders are 5th in the turnover ratio (-2) while the Argos are 8th (-3) ... The Riders are the least-penalized team in the CFL while Toronto is most-penalized ... Toronto beat Saskatchewan 48-15 in Week 2 in Toronto ... The referee is Al Bradbury ... The forecast calls for a high of 20 degrees with a 60% chance of showers.

RP

(Photo courtesy CP)

Friday, July 25, 2014

BOMBERS 23 LIONS 6


VANCOUVER (CP) - Lirim Hajrullahu is a CFL rookie, but he made kicking field goals in pressure-packed situations look easy Friday night.

Hajrullahu kicked five field goals - the best single-game performance of his young career - and accounted for most of his team's scoring as the upstart Winnipeg Blue Bombers thumped the B.C. Lions 23-6 at B.C. Place Stadium.

"It was great that we won the game and the guys trusted in me,'' said Hajrullahu, a 24-year-old St. Catharines, Ont., native who played the past five seasons at Western University.

Winnipeg (4-1) moved into a three-way tie for first place in the West Division with Calgary and Edmonton. The Blue Bombers have already exceeded their entire victory total from 2013.

Hajrullahu's most important field goals were also his longest as the Blue Bombers secured the victory with 14 unanswered points in the third quarter. He connected on a 51-yarder, which was longer than any he booted while becoming Western's all-time leading scorer, and furnished another from 49 yards while also earning a single from a 63-yard kick-off.

"I want this (pressure),'' he said. "At this point in the season, I just want to be able to show that I am capable of making those types of kicks. If they do need me, I want to be there for the guys.''

Winnipeg also scored its only touchdown in the third quarter as quarterback Drew Willy threw a 37-yard pass to Clarence Denmark. The win added to the confidence that the club has built under new coach Mike O'Shea.

The Lions saw a two-game winning streak come to an end as they dropped to 2-3 while mustering only two field goals from Paul McCallum.

Winnipeg, meanwhile, made amends for a loss to Edmonton in their last outing.

"We came over this hump,'' said Hajrullahu, who signed as a free agent in January. "And, this was a huge win, especially for the guys that were here last year. They made some major changes and the guys are starting to believe in themselves and believe in each other. That's the most important thing right now.''

B.C. struggled to deal with a Winnipeg defence that sacked quarterback Kevin Glenn five times and intercepted two of his passes.

"We couldn't get any sustained drives,'' said Glenn. "We had some turnovers, some negative plays. When you do that, you can't get into a groove as a group.''

The Lions only recorded two sacks on Willy, who produced decent numbers but had trouble getting his team into the end zone.

"We need to get some more touchdowns, obviously, but our defence played just lights out,'' said Willy. "I was just happy for the guys.''

Willy completed 18 of 26 passes for 250 yards and one interception along with the TD. Receiver Nick Moore had a strong night against his former B.C. squad, catching seven passes for 99 yards.

"There were a couple plays I wanted back, but I thought I did some good things,'' said Willy.

Glenn connected on 18 of 31 passes for 232 yards. He was replaced briefly by backup John Beck, who completed one of two passes.

Notes: Attendance was 25,321. The Lions retired all-time CFL leading receiver Geroy Simon's jersey and inducted him into the club's Ring of Honour at half-time. Moore played against his former B.C. team for the first time since leaving as a free agent in the off-season. Hajrullahu's experience as a former soccer player helped him boot the long single. Despite being a midfielder, he used to take his team's goal-kicks.

RIDERS READY TO TURN IT AROUND


REGINA (CP) - Brett Swain returned to his childhood happy place during the Saskatchewan Roughriders' bye week.

The rookie CFL receiver spent a few days wandering around Disneyland with his wife Mary, in addition to relaxing at his off-season home near the beach in San Diego.

"We went on a lot of rides and had a lot of fun,'' Swain said with a big grin. "I love the rides, I love the roller coasters I know (Disneyland) is mostly meant for kids, but it was good to just be there and be around all of that fun stuff.''

Riderville has been anything but the happiest place on Earth the past few weeks as the Riders have suffered two straight losses and have been outscored 74-28 over that span. Their 1-2 record has the defending Grey Cup champions in last place in the competitive West Division standings.

The Riders will host another scuffling team on Saturday, the Toronto Argonauts (1-3), who have also endured back-to-back losses since they dismantled the Riders 48-15 in Week 2.

"Whether it's going well or going not so well, it's always good to take a break and get your mind off of things and then you come back and refocus,'' said Swain, who bounced around with three NFL teams before he signed with the Riders this past winter.

"I've been on both ends of the stick where I go into the break with a losing record and with a winning record and there really is no difference. (The bye week) is just a good time to reset. We still have a long 14 weeks ahead of us.''

Refreshed and rejuvenated have been popular words used by the Roughriders during practice this week at Mosaic Stadium. Players stopped short at calling the mini two-game losing streak a slump.

Rather, they feel the time away from the turf allowed them to take a look at the simpler aspects of the game - the fundamentals.

"When you start to lose and you don't know where to look first, a lot of it comes down to just playing football,'' said Swain, who was held without a catch in the Riders' Week 3 loss to the B.C. Lions. "Take a look at what you do on an every day basis - catching the football, carrying the football, throwing the ball, making tackles. It's like when a (baseball) hitter goes into a slump. The first thing you want to do is slow things down, sit back on the ball and take it to right field. Just keep it simple.''

Fellow receiver Taj Smith agreed with Swain's take, and added the team's recent woes come down to poor execution.

"It's a team thing as far as the players go,'' said Smith, who leads the Riders with 11 catches, 169 receiving yards and two touchdowns. "We put ourselves in some binds as far as penalties, dropped passes and missed tackles. Once we clean that up, I feel that the sky is the limit for us.

"Execution has been the biggest thing. Being fundamentally sound as a team is what we need to focus on.''

It was another busy week for the Riders as far as personnel is concerned. The carousel at running back continued as the Riders cut veteran Hugh Charles and added Will Ford, a former East Division all-star who was recently let go by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Two weeks ago, the Riders signed running back Jerome Messam and, when placed in the mix with incumbents Anthony Allen and Keith Toston, gives the Riders four running backs.

Veteran slotback Chris Getzlaf, one of three 1,000-yard receivers with the Riders in 2013, was very limited at practices this week as he is nursing a quadriceps injury. First-year Rider Chaz Schilens is expected to start in place of Getzlaf.

'CANES HIRE RADIO VOICE

The Lethbridge Hurricanes and radio broadcast partner Rock 106 are pleased to announce Dustin Forbes as their new play-by play voice.
 
Forbes will be joining the Lethbridge Hurricanes after spending this past season with the Cowichan Capitals in the BCHL. Prior to his time in Duncan, BC with the Capitals, Forbes was also the play-by-play voice of the La Ronge Ice Wolves (SJHL) as well as broadcasting Junior B hockey games for the Richmond Sockeyes and Comox Valley Glacier Kings.
 
Before he started calling hockey games, Forbes was also a sports anchor, reporter and host in Courtenay, BC. While attending British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Forbes also interned at Rogers Sportsnet where he covered both the BC Lions and Vancouver Canucks and he's excited for this next step in his broadcasting career. 

"I think it's a huge opportunity, it's something that's been a goal of mine to get a WHL opportunity so I'm really excited and can't wait to get out there and get the ball rolling." He added "I want the fans to know I'll bring high energy and excitement to the games. I will hopefully make you feel like you're at the game even if you're not and hopefully bring you in whether we're in Lethbridge or not."

DAYTONA HOMES FRIDAY RODSERVATIONS


FRIDAY ODDS 'N ENDS

- The trusty flag of the Rider Nation still waves proudly over Saskatchewan after the seemingly longest bye week ever.  The 1-2 Saskatchewan Roughriders oppose the 1-3 Toronto Argonauts Saturday at Mosaic Stadium to close out Week 5 of the 2014 CFL season (8:00 pm, TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network).  While some have tabbed the clash a "must-win game", I don't agree but assuredly is a battle of two desperate clubs.  Despite the Riders' uncharacteristic struggles out of the starting blocks, their fans are still behind them.  Let's see if it is indeed a "brand new season" as Coach Chamblin optimistically pointed out on Tuesday.

- The forecast is a soggy one for Saturday's game.  The weatherman calls for a high of 19 degrees Celsius (66 above Fahrenheit) and a 70% chance of showers.  I have no idea how many tickets have been sold for the match however given the fact it's a Saturday night home game, you've got to think Mosaic Stadium will be jammed to capacity.

- The Riders are 6.5-point favourites and the over/under is a modest 51 points.  The Argos trounced the Riders 48-15 at Rogers Centre in Week 2 for their only win of the season.

- Star Rider receiver Chris Getzlaf was ruled out for Saturday's game with a nagging leg injury which he says has "compounded" since the beginning of training camp.  He told reporters on Thursday that the injury is both "mentally and physically frustrating".  With the Argos missing their most dangerous threat Chad Owens, I suppose it's a wash but the Rider offense has been anemic without #89.

- Week 5 in the CFL opened on Thursday with an entertaining showdown in Edmonton between the Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders.  The Stampeders held on for a last-minute 26-22 win which upped their record to 4-0 and will assuredly perch them atop the CFL's Power Rankings next week.  The Eskimos fell to 4-1 but had they gotten out of their own way Thursday night, the game was there for the taking.  TSN's Glen Suitor said at the game's conclusion Edmonton's special teams "let them down" in the first half and a spate of penalties in the second half didn't help the cause.  But that's Calgary.  They're not going to make a mistake or give games away.  In the regular season.

- I shut the TV off as the Stampeders were in the "V"-formation but Twitter was abuzz after the game because Eskimo coach Chris Jones reportedly skipped the postgame handshake with Calgary's John Hufnagel.  Boys will be boys.

- Week 5 continues Friday evening with the BC Lions home to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a game which has the Lions favoured by a whopping 8-points.  BC's Kevin Glenn will make his 159th career start at quarterback and has a 7-6 career mark against Winnipeg.

- Drew Willy gets the start for Winnipeg and he has a career record of 4-4 as a starter.  Drew has been sacked 14 times since Week 1 which is the most by a quarterback in the CFL this year.  I didn't think he'd survive this long.

- One more: BC coach Mike Benevides has a record of 26-14 and CFL Game Notes say he's never gone into a game with a career record below .500.

- Happy Geroy Simon Day!  That's the proclamation in Vancouver on Friday but we may as well observe the holiday as well since he's drawing paycheques from the Roughriders.  Geroy will be properly feted in Vancouver today and will be added to the Lions' hallowed Ring of Honour at halftime.  The whole situation seems strange and the Vancouver Province called Geroy's relationship with the Lions "strained" in Friday's edition.  Writer Ed Willes went so far as to call the current scenario "awkward".  Either way, this gesture by the BC franchise is admirable and noble and it promises to be a great night.  Lions President Dennis Skulsky said Thursday there will be a position for Simon waiting within the organization somewhere down the line.  After watching video of Geroy's glory days, he certainly made it look easy.

- Speaking of former great Rider receivers, we got a live report from Kansas City Chiefs camp on Thursday's SportsCage and our reporter Tim Walker in K.C. said Weston was working at wide receiver and on punt returns.  He reported that several spectacular catches by Dressler drew several cheers from the crowd which, reportedly, is rare.  I was smiling on the outside while listening to the report, but crying on the inside.  Here are some of Tim's outstanding photos.  I've never met him before, but out of the goodness of his heart he called up our show to give a great update and then forwarded these pics last night:





- This is Peter King-style stuff!  Thanks Tim.

- With Dressler gone, there's no clear cut number-one jersey seller for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  Rider Store staff tell me it's a toss-up between Durant and Getzlaf for the top seller right now.  The topic came up when the NFL reported this week Cleveland quarterback Johnny Manziel has the #1-selling jersey in that league early on this season.  Behind Manziel are Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Peyton Manning, Richard Sherman and Michael Sam according to NFLshop.com and Dick's Sporting Goods.

- A search for news on Kory Sheets' progress at Oakland Raiders camp turned up crickets.

- Meanwhile the Riders remain in search of a trusted tailback to replace Sheets and here's a guess that all of Will Ford, Jerome Messam and Anthony Allen will be on the roster for Saturday's game against the Argonauts.  Rookie Keith Toston remains in the shadows by Coach Chamblin said on Thursday that it's not a "negative thing" with Toston.  Chamblin said Toston's done nothing wrong and will get his opportunity at some point.  I got flamed by some fans this week for saying it's a "Coach's Decision" but not elaborating as to why.  It's not arrogance or "waving it in the fans' face" as some people have put it.  It's simply covering my butt.  Unfortunately fans don't have the right to know everything that's going on with the team.  And in this case, it's nothing inflammatory nor salacious.

- We had an interesting chat with Riders Defensive Coordinator Richie Hall on CKRM's Coaches Show this week.  I noted that Richie always finds a quiet corner of the press box to seemingly meditate just prior to kickoff at all home games.  "Pint" said he takes that time to say a little prayer and clear his mind for the match ahead.  At halftime Richie and fellow assistants sprint down the ramps, dodging fans, to get into the locker room at halftime before returning before the second half kickoff.  He smiled and said he gets "plenty of wisdom and advice" from the fans as he runs by.

Bradwell
- Argonauts receiver Mike Bradwell could be a target of the east side fans on Saturday after telling the Toronto Star the Riders have the second worst jerseys in the CFL.  "I'm not a huge green guy," Bradwell said.  "I'm not a huge fan of their jerseys.  Saskatchewan is second worst."  Of course Bradwell, a model in the off-season, put the Argos at #1 and the Ticats at #9.

- Week 5 continues on Saturday with the Ottawa RedBlacks taking on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at McMaster University in Hamilton.  Ottawa pivot Henry Burris may have revenge on his mind after having a can tied to him by the Ticats last winter.  Regarding seeing the Ticats lose, Burris told reporters, "It wasn't sad.  It was good to see them lose because they're an eastern opponent."

- Hamilton Spectator reporter Drew Edwards wrote this week "Life with (Ticats coach and GM) Kent Austin when he's losing is categorically awful".

- The hot topic around Regina these days, amongst hockey people anyways, is the still vacant head coaching job with the Regina Pats.  We've heard the names Trent Cassan, John Torchetti, David Struch, Lorne Molleken, Mike Sillinger and Jamie Heward being tossed around for months.  The next head coach could be one of those names, or none of them.

- Mike Rooney's Western Prospects Development Camp went this week at Regina's Cooperators Centre for the top draft-eligible bantam hockey players in western Canada and the western USA.  Evaluators tell me Lloydminster defenceman Ty Smith was the top-rated player while Lucas Sillinger, son of Mike, was in the Top 10.

- Great news to hear hockey maven Barry Trapp will be scouting for the Regina Pats this winter.  "Trapper" will be scouting Arizona, Texas and California for the team he once coaches.  Wonder if he needs a navigator?

- The Regina Pats are hiring a Director of Ticket Sales.  Interested parties should email Cliff Mapes at cmapes@reginapats.com with a resume and salary expectations.
C-Bear and me at Currie Field

- Kudos to WHL fan favourite Rocky Thompson for landing a job with the Edmonton Oilers as assistant coach this week.  The former Medicine Hat Tigers tough guy spent the past four years as an assistant with the Oklahoma City Barons.  The 36-year old Cree from Whitecourt, AB is 12 years out of the NHL, having played 25 games in "The Show".

- Your division-leading Regina Red Sox are home Friday evening to the Weyburn Beavers at Currie Field.  First pitch is 7:05.  It appears there will be playoff baseball once again in the Queen City thanks to the magic of skipper Scottie Douglas.  Tuesday evening was "CKRM Night" at the ballpark and we had a wonderful time with my family down in the Bullpen.

- Incidentally Saturday is Rider Pride Day at Currie Field with the start time being moved up to 4:00 pm to accommodate the Rider game.  All fans wearing Green & White will receive half off their gate admission!

THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY! HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND AND GO RIDERS!
RP
@sportscage