I wrote in my last column that there are always big surprises each and every year when the Roughriders make their final cuts.

The Riders made their final cuts.

There were no surprises.

There was one big concern.

Veteran Saskatchewan guard Brendan Labatte will likely not play in the 2019 CFL lid-lifter Thursday night in Hamilton. The pride of Weyburn has something going on with a hip, the severity currently unknown.

We all hope it’s nothing serious, like Roger Aldag before him, Labatte is a heart and soul Roughrider who the green team needs badly.

On the offense the Riders did not keep four quarterbacks so both veteran David Watford and rookie Ty Gangi are gonzo. Rookie Isaac Harker will be the third QB which is no surprise.

In other positions what the team released today can change before kickoff in Hamilton.

I thought rookie running back Jamal Morrow would make the opening day roster, at this point he is on the practise roster. The super fast Marcus Thigpen survived as the backup running back behind William Powell. The Riders cut James Butler who I thought would end up on the practise roster but remember, players can decline a PR invitation. Practise roster salaries don’t pay a lot of bills.

Rookie receiver Paul McRoberts ended up on the practise roster but he’ll be playing this year, count on that.

On defense, rookie defensive end Lavar Edwards beat out vet Chad Jeter. Coach Craig want Edwards to get into better CFL shape, meanwhile Jeter just couldn’t get anything going against Winnipeg last Thursday. Jeter was constantly getting caught up in the wash.

Edwards is 6'4" so the ability to knock down passes is there considering the departure of Willie Jefferson.

Rookie defensive tackle Jeremy Faulk is on the practise roster but if he ended up playing in Hamilton I wouldn’t be shocked.

At his point rookie linebacker Oluwaseun Idowu is on the roster.

Great recruiting with this player, Idowu is straight out of college at Pittsburgh where he was a dominant force with the Panthers.

Much like Dyshawn Davis, Idowu is extremely fast at 230 lbs.

Newcomer and defensive back Solomon Means is hanging around,

Means played four games with the Eskimos last year. Veteran DB Crezdon Butler is gone, Crezdon lost a step but had a pro career he should be proud of including making it as a starter with the Chicago Bears.

Players likely destined for hopefully short injury lists other than Labatte include middle linebacker Solomon Elimimian, receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux and rookie receiver Brayden Lenius.

CFL rosters are always in some sort of flux, but as I look at the Roughriders as they prepare for Hamilton, I see an offense which clearly should be better than a year ago.

Don Hewitt started covering the Saskatchewan Roughriders for CKCK-TV in 1979.