REGINA -- Keion Adams, one of the newest additions to the Riders defensive line, brings with him a unique background and skill set.

The 26-year-old was with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants in the NFL between 2017 and 2019. Then, Adams considered retirement.

“I was doing executive protection, bounty hunting and private security,” Adams said about his off-seasons. “I had got my degree from Western Michigan in criminal justice.”

The lineman had some high-profile clients in security protection like rappers Gucci Mane, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz and Lil Baby.

Adams said the work provided cross-training for football opportunities if they ever presented themselves. He did hand-to-hand combat and boxing training for his off-seaosn jobs.

At training camp, Adams has been filling the vacant spot on the defensive line left by 2019 CFL sack leader Charleston Hughes, who signed with the Argos. Adams did his research and is aware that Hughes had 16 sacks in 2019 and also studied the CFL six-time All-Star’s technique.

“He’s someone that I’ve watched and I’ve continued to learn from as far as how this league is different from the NFL,” Adams said. “To emulate what he does or take things out of his bag that can add to myself.”

The Riders defensive line is one of the most intact positions from the 2019 season.

Three of the four starters, A.C. Leonard, Makana Henry and Micah Johnson, are returning to the team.

“In the bottom of my heart I feel like this is the place to be, if you’re a football guy you don’t want to be nowhere but Saskatchewan,” Johnson, a defensive tackle, said.

In 2020, the three-time CFL All-star signed a one-year contract with the B.C Lions. Johnson said there were communication misunderstandings with the Riders in contract negotiations following the 2019 season.

“It wasn’t necessarily a financial thing. It wasn’t like going to the highest bidder. I just had familiarity with B,C. Wasn’t really sure where Saskatchewan wanted to go with me and things like that,” Johnson said.

Johnson suffered two high ankle sprains during his last season in Saskatchewan. The defensive tackle felt the dialogue with Riders general manager Jeremy O’Day was better this off-season.

“I felt like they didn’t get nearly the best Micah that they could get so I’m excited to put that out there and give the Sask fans the best Micah,” Johnson said.

Newcomer Freddie Bishop was expected to fill in the fourth and final hole on the defensive line, but the 2014 Grey Cup champion tore his Achilles in a pre-camp workout. Johnson believes there are others that can step into that defensive position.

“That’s when you know you’re glad you have a great scouting department because you know you got guys that you’re bringing up here across the board that contribute,” Johnson said.