With his new deal signed, Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant has his sights firmly set on the 2016 season.
A new season that will be extra important for Durant after missing the last season and a half due to injury.
“It’s huge. For you to have such devastating injuries and you can’t even get back on the field. That’s what’s tough. You can easily deal with nicks, sprains, even a little chipped bone that you miss six weeks with,” he said.
“For these to be season-ending injuries, I’m motivated as much you can imagine.”
If history is any indication, a motivated Durant could mean trouble for the rest of the league. The best example of that was the 2013 CFL playoffs when Durant put the team on his back and willed them to victory in the west semifinal against the B.C. Lions.
Durant may have all the motivation in the world to get back on the field but first he has to be able to everything he needs to on the field.
“I’m pretty much doing everything I need to do,” said Durant.
“I’m still under control a little bit on some of my cuts. Just getting used to going full speed with the cuts and everything else will be fine after that.”
The 33-year-old has spent a bulk of the off-season at home in Atlanta working with specialists during his rehab. Durant is expected to be back in Regina next month.
When Durant does return to Mosaic Stadium, he’ll be looking at a much different team than the one he left. Out are a number of veterans who he’s spent the last few years playing with. That includes long time teammates in Weston Dressler and John Chick.
“It’s tough, not only did I share blood, sweat and tears with these guys. They’re also my friends,” he said.
“But like I said, it’s what we sign up for. When we decide to play this game, we know that one day we’re going to get that call.”
Durant’s also going to have yet another new offensive coaching staff to work with.
This season, Durant will be working with his eighth different offensive coordinator during his time in Saskatchewan.
“You saw what those guys did in Edmonton, they racked up yards each and every week,” he said.
“You add that to Chris Jones and his defence. I’ve been going against that defence my whole career, it’s tough. I’m glad they’re on our side.”
The change in coaching staff has come with something Durant has wanted for the last couple of years: a dedicated quarterbacks coach.
The Riders haven’t have a quarterbacks coach, who wasn’t also the offensive coordinator since the 2013 season. This year, Durant will get to work with former CFLer Jarious Jackson.
“I’m excited. My best years as a QB I had Khari Jones with me, Marcus Crandell, quarterback coaches, guys who have played the position. I’m looking forward to working with Jarious,” he said.
In an off-season filled with change, Durant could be the one constant that brings the whole thing together in 2016.
RIDERS SIGN A PAIR
Head coach and general manager Chis Jones continues to be a busy man.
The Riders announced on Thursday they’ve re-signed Canadian defensive back Dan West and Australian punter Josh Bartel.
West joined the Riders last season picking up six special teams tackles in 11 games.
Bartel returns to Saskatchewan after a year out of football. He was the team’s punter in 2014. Bartel has averaged 43.3 yards per punt in his career and was an East Division all-star in 2012 and 2013 when he was in Hamilton.