The Saskatchewan Roughriders defence is starting to finally show some signs of life.
That pulse wasn’t created by the coaching staff but the players themselves.
“They’ve really galvanized themselves. They pulled themselves into the room last week and said ‘we can only control what we can control, right?’ And that’s what they did,” said defensive coordinator Greg Quick.
The mental toughness that was lacking through the first five weeks of the regular season was apparent throughout last Friday’s loss in Edmonton. After the Eskimos scored a touchdown on defence, the Riders defence didn’t fold after a second interception on the next play from the offence. Instead, with the team starting in their own red-zone, they actually managed to get a stop and hold the Eskimos to just three points.
Even when the same seemed to be over, the defence force three straight two-and-outs – something that hasn’t happened very much this year.
“Last week was a great step for the defence. I think it’s gained a margin of confidence as we move forward,” said Quick.
The defence was able to keep explosive running back Shakir Bell in check as well. Before last week, Bell was averaging eight yards a carry. The Riders held him to just four yards a carry.
Pressure was also found as Eskimos quarterback Matt Nichols was taken down five times.
“The defence came together more as a unit. We were more cohesive. That was definitely a good thing going forward. Hopefully, we can build off of that,” said defensive end Alex Hall.
The group could be coming together because they’ve finally been able to be together for a few weeks. There will be a change this week with defensive back Tyree Hollins out with what appears to be a leg injury. But, for the most part, the unit will look fairly similar.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to work on. The defence hasn’t intercepted a football since week two, and hasn’t recovered a fumble all year.
“When they start coming, they’re going to come,” said safety Tyron Brackenridge.
“So, they just better watch out.”
Now, the defence needs to prove they can do it again.
News and Notes
Chamblin confirmed on Thursday that running back Steven Miller and Devin Wilson will make their way onto the roster.
Defensive back Mark Legree will also play Saturday against the Toronto Argonauts.
Defensive back Macho Harris returned to practice after leaving Tuesday’s session late. Many defensive backs were given time on Thursday as Chamblin said the players are ramping up the competition between each other. There could be some rotation in the secondary on Saturday.