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'Year 2 is when they get it': Riders' Dickenson has high expectations for former rookies

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders will have their first test of the season this weekend and the stakes are high for everyone but head coach, Craig Dickenson, hopes to see a big jump in skillset from last year’s rookie class.

“You always bring in so many players so year two is when they get it. Usually year two is a good year for the second year players because the first year, it’s a little big and it’s new. But if you can get them to year two, they usually make huge improvements,” Dickenson explained.

A year two player that fans expect to see a lot of action is running back, Frankie Hickson. Hickson was the Riders’ nominee for CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie Award in 2022.

He made four starts in 13 games last season and finished the year sixth in rushing yards amongst the league.

“The team is requiring a little bit more of me this year and what comes with that is more responsibility. But it’s great, more ability, more chances to make plays for my teammates,” Hickson said.

“My route running and catching has gotten better but I would say my biggest jump [from last year to this year] is just confidence. Trusting myself a little bit more to do what God has given me the ability to do,” he added.

However, Hickson is not the only player Dickenson will have his eye on from the 2022 rookie class.

“[Samuel] Emilus has been good. A.J. Allen, it’s year three for him but kind of year two because he went back. Amari Henderson is another example they usually get it. Jayden Dalke, another good name. [Dalke] was good for us last year but now you can see he’s taking the next step on defence,” listed Dickenson.

The expectation with a year under their belt is not lost on the newly deemed veterans.

“Grateful for more opportunity, more responsibility because I want to be accountable and I want to be reliable to my coaches and teammates,” Dalke said.

“I’m way more comfortable and I’m making plays [now]. I would say the second year really made me do what I’m supposed to do and be ready for what’s coming,” Emilus said.

The second year players will get their first chance to make a statement as CFL veterans this weekend when they head to Edmonton to take on the Elks.

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