He’s got eight fewer interceptions than he had last year, but Ed Gainey knows he’s still a dominant defensive back.
The Roughriders 2017 most outstanding defensive player admits he’s not meeting the goals he’s set for himself this season – interception-wise anyway – but he’s looking to measure his success in other ways.
For example, Gainey is third in the league in knockdowns with eight – something that can be almost as game-changing as an interception can be.
He’s also been matched up with some of the best receivers in the league, as the Roughriders now match defensive backs up with specific players as opposed to field positions, and is happy with his performance.
“I’m getting my job done,” he insisted. “When I step in between those lines, you know, the receivers, they feel me. They know what time it is.”
“I’m always ready to step up to the challenge. Even if things don’t necessarily go my way I’m still going to step out there on the next play and believe I can make whatever up. I take pride in that.”
And personal accolades mean little in the grand scheme of things anyway. Gainey is part of a strong Roughrider defence that makes it tough on opposing offences week in and week out. He’s also part of a team that’s in second place at 10-6.
“At the end of the day, my team is winning and that’s pretty much the main goal,” Gainey said. “The overall objective of everyone on this team is to make the playoffs and try to make it to the Grey Cup and win it.”
The first part of that goal has already been met: the Roughriders have clinched a playoff spot. What’s still unclear is where it will be played. The club is still in the mix to host the western finals, they could also host the west semi-finals or could crossover to the east for the second straight year.
It seems almost unthinkable given the dominance of the Calgary Stampeders over the last several seasons that the green and white could take first place in the west, but a win this week and next, paired with Calgary losses, and it could happen.
That has been the goal all along.
“Every since the season started, ever since I’ve been in Saskatchewan the main objective is just to change the culture around here,” he explained. “The last two years Calgary’s been on top, but we’ve been doing our thing over here, we’ve been rebuilding and this year we’ve got a real shot at it.”
Head coach Chris Jones admits a stronger start to the season would have put them in an even better position now, but it’s not anything they can help now.
“The facts are that if we win that game, they lose out we’ve still got a shot,” Jones said. “It’s an unfortunate situation early in the year – we could have controlled some things but we are where we are, we move forward we look forward to going to compete with a really good football team.”
According to the CFL, there are still 64 possible playoff scenarios that could play out across the league, but many leave the Roughriders in control of their own destiny. If they can win their last two games, they do have that shot at first place and also at a home playoff game.
But both Calgary and Saskatchewan will be hoping to bounce back after losses in week 18.
“It’s a very big opportunity,” Gainey stressed. “We already played them twice, we’re tied right now (in the season series). When we go over there and beat them that will be that much more of an edge for us to hopefully get that first place in the west.”
Game time is Saturday at 5 p.m.
Depth chart and notes
- The Roughriders announced early Friday that despite initially deciding that defensive end Charleston Hughes would play against Calgary, they’ve opted to drop him from the active roster. Hughes was charged with impaired driving on Oct. 11 and the Roughriders said he violated their values and expectations by declining a breathalyzer test.
- Rookie receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert returns to the lineup after missing one game with an injury. Newcomers Patrick Lavoie and Philip Blake make their second starts in the green and white after being traded at the deadline and Crezdon Bulter will play in place of an injured Matt Elam.
Here's the Roughriders depth chart against the Calgary Stampeders.
Chad Geter will start in place of Charleston Hughes who has been removed from the active roster over his impaired driving charges.
Crezdon Butler is in for Matt Elam, Jordan Williams-Lambert returns. pic.twitter.com/waL7nkAnPY
— Arielle Zerr (@arielle_zerr) October 19, 2018
A few changes to the #Stamps line-up this week!
— Calgary Stampeders (@calstampeders) October 19, 2018