Junior Mertile has been the talk of the town in Saskatchewan, and unfortunately it’s for all the wrong reasons.
During the Riders 35-24 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday, the defensive back was caught making an error that won’t soon be forgotten. Eskimos receiver Adarius Bowman was running down the field with another defensive back, Tyree Hollins, trying to chase him down. When the two reached Mertile, the 26-year-old stepped out of the way rather than trying to help make the tackle.
“To be honest, I thought my man was going to make the tackle. That was on me. I made a mistake. I should have known better and just made the tackle,” said Mertile on Tuesday after the Riders first practice since their latest loss.
“It was just bad on my part. I own up to it. I should have just made the hit.”
Unfortunately for Mertile, that play has now gone viral with football fans across not only Canada but the United States well.
Considering Mertile is currently trying to prove his worth to the Riders and the rest of the football world, so he can find a job somewhere next season, that’s not the kind of play you want to be known for.
Naturally, Mertile is now hoping he can get another chance to play and make up for the mistake.
“I want to get back on the field ASAP so I can make everybody just forget that play,” he said.
It doesn’t look like Mertile will get that chance this week against the Calgary Stampeders.
Mertile didn’t practice with the first team defence for most of the day Tuesday. He got some reps late in practice after Tyree Hollins left with an unknown injury. With a couple of a days of practice still left, Hollins could still return.
After practice, interim head coach Bob Dyce figured that Mertile wouldn’t play this week.
“He understands what happened isn’t acceptable,” he said.
“In life, we all make challenges and we have to own up to our challenges. There is repercussions for mistakes that we make. Sometimes, that’s getting taken off the roster and that’s what likely might happen this week.”
There could be a number of changes in the secondary this week as defensive backs Marshay Green didn’t practice. Macho Harris moved to corner in his absence. Dan Unumba was also playing corner. Hollins, before leaving practice, and Tristan Jackson were at halfback.
NEWS AND NOTES
Running backs Anthony Allen and Chad Spann both did not practice on Tuesday. Newcomer Stephen Houston took the reps at tailback. The team also signed running back Taylor LaVance to the practice roster.
Practice roster defensive back Kip Edwards was released on Tuesday.
Defensive tackle Tearrius George was back with the first team defence as Andre Monroe did not practice.
The status of all of the injured players is currently unknown.
Dyce announced that Brett Smith will likely start at quarterback on Saturday. However, like against the Eskimos, Keith Price will play at some point during the game.