Already facing a steep mountain, the Riders will face their biggest test yet on Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
The 0-5 Riders will face one of the best teams in the CFL so far this season – the Eskimos. If that wasn’t enough, they’ll be doing it with a 23-year-old quarterback who is making his first start in professional football.
“We’re not a bad team. I’ve been on some bad teams,” said offensive lineman Chris Best.
“We just need to finish. Every game, we’ve had a chance. We just need to finish. Once we get over that hump, we’ll be able to get over that hump for sure.”
That hump the Riders are facing has been growing every week. There’s a pretty good chance that it might be too late to make that climb.
Unlike the previous five weeks, odds are pretty good that most of the fans and pundits that aren’t wearing green-coloured glasses will bet against the Riders.
For some within the walls of the locker room, that’s just fine.
“To see that we’re at the bottom and we’re looking up. There’s nothing else we can do but fight. At this point, we might even start to be overlooked. We’re just going to fight like we have everything to gain and nothing to lose,” said defensive back Terrell Maze.
A team with nothing to lose can be a dangerous team. The question for the Riders is there enough pieces in place for that to matter?
Helping Smith out
Even the best quarterbacks in football need a helping hand from their teammates to win a football.
That’s especially true when you’re talking about a rookie quarterback making his first career start.
“We’re all taught to have a small piece of the puzzle in terms of the offence,” said receiver Rob Bagg.
“If all 12 guys do their job, Brett will be better off. When you have an opportunity to make your play, make your play. That will build his confidence and help make the team successful.”
The defence and special teams can certainly do their part to make sure that Smith’s CFL debut is less stressful. Those two sides of the ball can help give Smith a shorter field to work with by making stops and keeping the Eskimos as deep into their own end as possible
The positive is the special teams units have been fairly good this season. The down side is the defence hasn’t been able to make the opposition pay when they’re deep in their own territory.
“As a defence you always feel like you can control the way the games goes,” said defensive end John Chick.
“If you allow them to move the ball, it kind of affects the moral of the whole time. We see it as a great opportunity to set a tone and help put our offence in a good position.”
At this point, everyone is aware of the biggest change of the week on the Riders depth chart.
Smith will be the team’s starting quarterback. Tino Sunseri slides up to be his backup with Keith Price slides into the third position after being activated from the practice roster.
Added to the 46-man roster:
- Quarterback Keith Price
- Defensive back Tristan Jackson
- Fullback Carl Fitzgerald
Removed from the 46-man roster:
- Quarterback Kevin Glenn
- Fullback Spencer Moore
- Offensive lineman Matt Vonk
The Green Zone 10-Hour Game Day begins at 3 p.m. on News Talk Radio with Game Day with Wray, followed by the Green Zone Pre-Game Show.
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