As the Riders season continues to go down the tubes, some bright spots are starting to emerge.
Most notably, the play of some of the team’s younger players — especially on the offensive side of the ball.
“When you look at Alex Carroll stepping up, (Junior) Mertile coming in (and) stepping up. Nic Demski (was) close, Devin Wilson (was) close,” said head coach Corey Chamblin.
“Two of those guys are from the free agent camps; they’ve come a long way.”
The play of the team’s younger players has been one of the positives most of the season. For the most part, it’s been a variety of veterans that have been disappointing.
Early in the year, for example, it was the play of defensive back Tyree Hollins and receiver Ryan Smith that caught the eye of fans.
Now, as the team starts a youth movement, players like Brett Smith, Carroll and Demski are starting to make their mark.
“I definitely feel more comfortable with every single game, even every snap,” said Smith.
“I think there’s (still) a lot of room for improvement.”
Smith has showed signs of improvement in each of the three games he’s started since the injury to veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn.
Against the Stampeders, Smith actually became the first Rider pivot to throw for three touchdowns in a single game since the 2013 Grey Cup.
“He still has to work on his composure a little bit. In terms of his actual play, you can see the maturation,” said Chamblin.
Smith wasn’t the only young gun to impress against Calgary.
Carroll, Wilson and Mertile all scored their first CFL touchdowns. For Carroll and Mertile, their touchdowns came in their first CFL starts.
“That was cool. I was in rookie camp with those guys. We’ve come a long way,” said Smith.
Demski appears to be getting more comfortable as a professional as well.
After suffering an injury early in the season, Demski has had back-to-back games with a big play or two.
Against the Stampeders, it was a 72 yard catch-and-run down to the three-yard-line setting up a Weston Dressler touchdown.
“It was a designed play and I took advantage of it,” said Demski.
“They bit down and I was open. All Brett really had to do was throw it and all I had to do was run.”
The Riders needed a youth movement before the season began, but as the old saying goes, it’s better late than never.