It’s only the second week of the CFL season, and the Roughriders are already dealing with a problematic injury.
Canadian middle “Mike” linebacker Henoc Muamba has been moved to the six-game injured list after an MRI revealed an injury to his knee.
“Right now we don’t know what the extent of his injury is going to be,” head coach Chris Jones said Friday morning.
Jones said the team isn’t sure how much time Muamba will miss.
The linebacker originally left practice Wednesday, but returned to the field Thursday.
However, the return was short-lived – Muamba left the field about 30 minutes into practice, presumably once the MRI results arrived.
“They told me (Thursday) they didn’t think he could play, so we pulled him off the practice field,” Jones said.
The absence of Muamba leaves a glaring hole in the Roughriders ratio, one that could provide quite the challenge for Jones and the coaching staff.
Slotted in at middle linebacker for Saturday’s game is second-year Rider Samuel Eguavoen, who started strong last year before a knee injury of his own.
Eguavoen said he is up for the challenge.
“It’s time to just unleash all of my pain from last year, just sitting on the sideline, and now it’s time to just go out and do it,” he said.
Eguavoen played weak side “Will” linebacker for the team in 2016, but he’s familiar with the middle position because he played it in college.
“I got to be more locked in on getting the call, getting my assignment and getting everybody lined up and make sure I’m communicating,” he said on the differences between positions.
However, the move to play Eguavoen still impacts the team’s ratio. Since he’s American, the Riders will have to find more creative ways to field seven Canadians.
“We’re going to have a multitude of people playing Mike and Will (linebacker) tomorrow, so good luck deciphering who they are,” Jones said.
Fortunately, the Riders are not short on the number of players that could line up at Mike and Will – including second overall CFL draft pick, Cameron Judge.
Canadian Judge is listed right behind Eguavoen on the depth chart, and Canadian Kevin Francis – in his sophomore season – is listed behind American Erick Dargan in the Will linebacker spot.
Kickoff for Saturday night’s first official Rider game at New Mosaic Stadium is 7 p.m.