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'I'm not going to sugarcoat it': Riders' GM speaks ahead of regular season

On Monday, Jeremy O’Day, Saskatchewan Roughriders General Manager and Vice President of Football Operations, met with media to discuss the team ahead of Week 1 of the regular season.

“They’re long off-seasons when the team doesn’t have success, so I’m not going to sugarcoat it by any means. When you make substantial change, people grow impatient with that process, but ultimately, we felt like we needed to change in certain areas. Hopefully people are going to be excited and are going to get behind us like they always have,” O’Day said.

A lot of changes happened over the weekend as the Riders were forced to reduce their roster following their 28-16 victory of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the team’s final pre-season test.

Something that had fans intrigued was the decision to keep all four quarterbacks on the roster: Shea Patterson, Jake Dolegala, Mason Fine, and of course starter, Trevor Harris.

“We just wanted to try and find a way to keep all four of them. We’ll see what the plan is going into Week 1 and I know you’re going to ask that question, but I’ll tell you right now I don’t have the answer of who’s going to be number two or three. That will be determined as the week goes on,” O’Day explained.

However, the team did release Stefen Banks, a defensive lineman the Riders had signed on the very first day of free agency back in February.

“I don’t think it was so much what Stefen Banks did, I think it was more so what Brian Cox and a couple of younger guys did that made it a difficult decision. But, you know, we just felt like they had better camps and took advantage of the opportunity and that’s why we decided to go with those guys,” O’Day said.

Saskatchewan also released Canadian running back Kienan LaFrance who had been with the team since 2019.

O’Day said although LaFrance had been a good player and an outstanding guy, they have to make those tough decisions, noting it came down to their designated roster.

“Just kind of the way our roster kind of broke down, we were going to go with just three in that area. Then the decision just came down to who we wanted on the roster so we decided we were going to go a bit younger there. I think Thomas [Bertrand-Hudon] had a very good camp and showed that it wasn’t too big for him,” he said.

The Riders selected Bertrand-Hudon in the fourth round of the 2023 CFL Draft.

The Riders won both of their pre-season games, something the team has not done since 2007. However, O’Day is approaching Week 1 with cautious optimism after their performances.

“It’s hard to really give it a fair assessment. We haven’t had all of our guys out there at the same time. We haven’t played against all the starters for other teams. [I am] happy with how our offense has done so far. That’s a concern or thought going in, how long will it take for 75 per cent or 80 per cent of your offense that’s changed, to gel?” O’Day said.

“We’ll see when they get to the real games. Pre-season they don’t count but they are important for building momentum and obviously showing you what you have on the roster going into the season,” he added.

The Riders will take to the field at Mosaic Stadium for their first practice of the regular season on Wednesday before heading to Edmonton this weekend to take on the Elks in their first game. Top Stories

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