Much has been made of the Riders defence this year as they sit last in nearly every major category.
Even though the defence has struggled, there have been some bright spots – none brighter than the play of linebackers Jake Doughty and Jeff Knox Jr.
“There’s so much notion. So many nuances . (Doughty) has done a good job adjusting. He and Knox,” said head coach Corey Chamblin.
The Riders thought they had solidified their middle linebacker position in the off-season when they acquired Shea Emry from the Toronto Argonauts for fan favourite defensive end Ricky Foley. However, Emry’s time in the middle of the Riders defence did not last long as he suffered a neck injury during the Riders opening-week loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
That injury forced newcomer Doughty into the spotlight.
“I think I’ve done alright. I definitely have things to improve on,” said Doughty.
Doughty almost didn’t make it to Saskatchewan this year. He participated in the NFL’s veteran combine in March. Once that test was over, Doughty’s phone rang; it was Riders assistant general manager Jeremy O’Day on the other end.
Not too long after, Doughty signed a deal with the Riders and had to start getting ready for Riders training camp in June leaving the NFL dream behind, at least for now.
“It’s still pro-football. The passion is what I think a lot of us are chasing. This beats the hell out of any other nine-to-five job. So, we’re going to try and do this as long as we can,” said Doughty.
The move north has been working out for Doughty so far as he leads the Riders defence through four weeks with 23 tackles and one interception. Knox Jr. isn’t too far behind Doughty with 20 tackles.
As the season goes along, the pair is pushing each other to get better.
“We got each other. That’s the best feeling out there,” said Knox Jr.
“When I’m playing, knowing he got my back and I got his. (It) makes the game a lot easier for us.”
News and Notes
Receiver Alex Carroll appears poised to return to the lineup in some capacity this week, likely special teams. He was quietly removed from the roster last week before being added again this week.
Weston Dressler may finally be getting a break on returns. Receivers Ryan Smith and Nic Demski were working on kick-off return on Friday.
Defensive back Alex Suber also appears to be making his way into the lineup this week. He had been battling Junior Mertile for a starting spot.
Linebacker Telvion Clark will also return to the lineup this week for the Riders.