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'Relief': New faces on Riders take to field for first practice since cracking final roster

Wednesday marked the first practice of the 2023 Canadian Football League (CFL) season for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and plenty of new faces were dawning the green and white.

That includes 2023 fourth round draft pick, Thomas Bertrand-Hudon who made the active roster in his first CFL season.

“Relief, I guess. It was a really stressful day. You basically just wait on the call. Actually don’t want to have any calls on cut days,” said Bertrand-Hudon.

“I didn’t get anything so it was a good relief. I called my parents, my girl and everything. It was very fun.”

Bertrand-Hudon had one carry for 18 yards in the team’s final pre-season matchup against the Bombers.

“I thought I did good, but I’m kind of a perfectionist,” he said.

“You know I was pin pointing the small errors I was making so of course I was stressed.”

For head coach Craig Dickenson, Bertrand-Hudon is a versatile asset on the field.

“We think he’s got great versatility. He’s a running back that can also play fullback. So he’s got the ability to play both,” he said.

“He’s a good special team’s player and he’s very intelligent so he picked up the offence quickly.”

Another new face that has cracked the active roster in his first CFL season is Bryan Cox Jr.

The Florida product has played 26 games in the National Football League (NFL) but also comes to the team with plenty of football knowledge as his dad his Bryan Keith Cox Sr. who currently is the assistant defensive lineman coach for the New York Giants and also played 12 seasons in the NFL.

“I’ve always been around the game. I’ve been around elite players all my life. So I kind of know the process of how that works, how those guys work, the work they put in,” Cox Jr. said.

“I mean I lean on him all the time for just small, simple things, regular life advice, football advice. We just talk about everything.”

Cox dealt with an Achilles injury following his time in the NFL but jumped at the opportunity to give the CFL a chance even though he did not know much about it.

“I honestly had no idea what to expect. I’ve never been to Canada in my life. So it was different coming here and everything but it’s been a great experience, great people, beautiful place. I’m still learning the demographics [of the game],” he explained.

While some players were just hoping to crack the final roster, others had a guaranteed spot like quarterback Trevor Harris.

But Harris will still reflect on his days as a rookie in the CFL.

“I was walking up the stairs with Zach Collaros, you know we both knew Ricky Ray was going to start, and our GM stopped us and said we’re going to keep both of you guys on the roster. Didn’t bring us in [to the office] or anything. But I remember just thinking ‘Man this is amazing,’” he explained.

“I was coming off Arena Football and making 400 bucks a week, substitute teaching making 60 bucks a day. So I was like cool $52,000, this is sick.”

But Harris also reflected on the opportunity to be the face of the Roughriders this season.

“That’s not to say I didn’t celebrate this year,” he said.

“It’s one of the best days of year when you’ve made the team for week one, and you’ve made the opening day roster and that of course was a celebration for me as well this year. So I celebrated in that with them.”

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