Wednesday, June 28, 2017
BACK TO WORK FOR THE RIDERS
The Roughriders held Day 1 of their practice week on Tuesday as they prepare for Saturday's home opener against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7:00 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network).
Here are some notes from Chris Jones' post-practice media session:
1. WR Ricky Collins won't play this week. He's out a month with a shoulder injury. That's the only significant injury from last week's game. Nic Demski will handle punt returns in Week 2. They are monitoring WR Rob Bagg daily. He missed Week 1 with an ankle injury.
2. Canadian tailback Kienan LaFrance took reps with the 1's after being out since the start of training camp. Jones said they'll monitor LaFrance daily to see if he's ready to suit up in Week 2.
3. On the 17-16 loss in Montreal, Jones said the "tight loss" was difficult to take. He said the club just needs to play smarter, schematically and penalty-wise. He said it's tough to beat a high school team when you commit so many self-inflicted errors.
4. Jones was impressed with the team's ability to convert on 3rd-and-short against the Alouettes. It was a problem for the club last year, but Jones said it's something his coaching staff has always "lived and died by". On the last drive, he said there wasn't an option to punt so it really gave them no choice but to gamble in those situations. They were 3/3 on the final drive on 3rd down.
5. On putting in QB Brandon Bridge for a play late in the fourth quarter, Jones said the offensive staff predicted a certain coverage from the Montreal defense. He said he doesn't second guess his coaches and trusts their decisions. He'd do it again.
6. CB Jovon Johnson played at an "extremely high level" in his debut at field corner.
7. On the last drive where the team had to take a timeout with :08 to go, Jones said there was an issue with crowd noise which caused some miscommunication. They burned off more time than they would've liked at a key time.
8. The pomp and circumstance surrounding the home opener is something the Riders won't get caught up in. Jones said, "It doesn't matter if we're playing them in the street". It's a win the Riders badly need to collect, no matter where the game is. He said the Bombers are extremely well-coached with great players and are a playoff-calibre team. However Jones said playing at home in this one is a big advantage.
9. Jones said he's lost plenty of sleep over the Montreal lost. It's tough committing 80 hours per week of preparation only to suffer a loss.
10. Tyler Crapigna had the ball where he wanted it on the last-second field goal. Jones said Crapigna isn't the only one who made a mistake, "including myself".
11. Regarding the team's mental state, Jones said the players are confident but until it all "clicks" and everything happens right in a game, they're still going to have "that little bit of edge to them." But, he said, they're closer to the bubble bursting.