|Old friends John Chick and Darian Durant. Credit: DarianDurant.com|
He gets his shot on Saturday night when his new team, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, host Durant's Saskatchewan Roughriders at Tim Hortons Field.
"I'm never allowed to hit the guy in practice, so it will be different tomorrow night,'' Chick, a former Roughrider, told reporters on Friday. "He always made it sound like he thought he could get away, so ?''
Veteran quarterback Durant, for his part, told hometown reporters on Thursday that he was looking forward to talking "a little smack''.
This is the first time Chick will face his former team. He played six years for Saskatchewan, from 2007 to 2009 and then again from 2013 to 2015, bookended around a three-year stint in the NFL, primarily with Jacksonville.
He'd been a premier defensive player with the Roughriders during that time, a CFL all-star in 2014 and last year led the team in sacks with 11 (tied for fourth in the CFL).
Then the Roughriders, with Chris Jones in as the new head coach, general manager and vice-president (football operations), released him in the off-season reportedly to save money. Chick told reporters yesterday at Tim Hortons Field he didn't like how the whole thing went down, and that no one should be surprised at the Roughriders' 1-6 record due to the high turnover from last year _ approximately two-thirds of Saskatchewan's roster for Saturday's game weren't Roughriders last year.
Then as he tried to explain his feelings decided he'd said enough.
"It is that one on the calendar,'' he said when asked if he'd had it circled. "The former squad, that you get to go out and show them how they messed up.
"I've definitely got some buddies on the team, but, in the game between the whistles it doesn't matter who's over there. You're going to give your best and I'm going to go out there and even more so. I'm always hoping to have my best game.''
This is a game in which both teams will be trying to get their groove back.
Saskatchewan comes into Hamilton under siege, not only from its 1-6 record and last place in the CFL West Division but from the fines it received last week mainly for roster infractions and also for standing on a midfield logo during player introductions. They haven't scored more than a touchdown in five games. The Roughriders lone win was a 30-29 victory over Ottawa on July 22.
Not that Hamilton sees this as a gimme. The Ticats are just 3-4 for third place in the CFL East Division, have played the past four games on the road and are on a two-game losing streak. They've also had a nasty habit of starting slow, having been outscored 127-31 by the opposition in the first half this season. In one of those wins (37-31 against Edmonton), they had to come back from a 25-point deficit in the third quarter. Sure, they finally got their starting quarterback Zach Collaros back last week. But they were still down 32-12 to B.C. and had to come back to tie it at 38 late in the game before finally losing 45-38.
"Records don't matter in this league. There's a ton of parity,'' said Collaros about the challenge Saskatchewan poses. "(Jones) is a proven coach. He's been doing it up here for a long time. The defence is always going to be ready to go, ready to play. Darian Durant is a great quarterback. So the record is what it is but you can't take any team lightly in this league and they have a ton of talent over there and they're very well coached. So it's going to be a challenge for us.''
Collaros said the Ticats will be focused on getting out to a better start than in the past.
"One play at a time, as cliche as that sounds,'' said Collaros. "Every play is very important and you can't take any plays off. If you can get 12 guys to lock in with that mentality usually you're able to execute at a high level.''