Shawn Lemon feels he owes something to Saskatchewan as he returns for his second stint with the Roughriders.
The dynamic pass rusher had an underwhelming start to his CFL career in 2011 when he was in and out of Winnipeg within days and then landed in Saskatchewan for a brief two weeks.
He did get to suit up for the Riders but didn’t make the grade on a team that went 5-13 that season. But the humbling few weeks to start off his CFL career helped make Lemon into the all-star calibre defensive end the Riders brought in to help replace John Chick off the edge.
“(I’m) completely different. I’m more open to learning new styles and implement a lot of different stuff into my game and I’ve learned from most of the great coaches in the league to help me combine what I do today,” he said.
While it wasn’t much fun being cut in 2011 by former general manager Brendan Taman, Lemon knows it was for the best.
“You have to go back and let it humble you a little bit. Just go back and try to work on your game and let it help you push you harder,” Lemon said. “Every situation, being cut from the NFL and all that good stuff, just go back and take the good things you’ve learned from the coaches there and combine it with your own game.”
After the 2011 season, Lemon went to Edmonton and piled up six sacks in nine games. He was then off to Calgary in 2013 in spot duty filling in for super-star Charleston Hughes, but gathered an impressive three sacks in five games.
In 2014, Lemon finally made a name for himself as he played in all but one game that season and ended up near the top of the league with 13 sacks.
His play with the Stampeders that season not only got him a Grey Cup ring, but also a shot at the NFL.
When he was released he was highly sought after back in Canada and ended up helping Ottawa get to the Grey Cup with five sacks in nine regular season games.
Now Lemon is hoping to impress Rider Nation, who didn’t get to see him at the top of his game when he arrived as a rookie five seasons ago.
“The fan base here is amazing and I feel like I owe this city a lot. I was here in 2011 and I was a young guy then so they didn’t get a chance to experience all my good CFL moments so I owe this city some good football.”
He certainly will feel comfortable, as along the defensive line he has played with veteran Tearrius George before and played with newly signed defensive end Justin Capicciotti in both Edmonton and last year in Ottawa.
“I got my running mate with me so it’s going to be a good year.”