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Riders hoping to build on strong defensive performance

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REGINA -

The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ defence will be looking to build off a lights-out performance in their week two win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Two interceptions, two fumbles and two turnovers on downs, the Riders were all over the Ti-Cats, forcing six turnovers in total.

"We’re playing hard and we’re getting to the football," Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said. "We’re not playing perfect, for sure, and we’ve got to shore some things up, but we’ve made improvements from game one to game two."

The defence had six sacks to go with the half-dozen takeaways. Saskatchewan leads the CFL with eight sacks through two games.

Veteran defensive tackle Micah Johnson said he’s impressed with how quickly the line has come together.

"It’s showing around the board, it’s a lot of talent, so it’s just about guys doing their jobs and we’re waiting for your turn because your turns gonna come," Johnson said.

Ottawa finished with 127 yards in its week one win over the Edmonton Elks.

Despite the lack of production from the Redblacks, Saskatchewan knows the big play ability is still there.

"We have to come out ready to go because they’re going to come out ready to go, they’re a fiery group and they have some character over there, they have some guys that have a lot of fight in them," Johnson said.

The Riders have started strong in each of their two wins and they’re hoping for more of the same against Ottawa on Saturday.

"We got an idea of what to expect, so just try to make these guys one dimensional, so we can get the pass rush going along the D-line," Riders linebacker Deon Lacey said.

Lacey knows Ottawa quarterback Matt Nichols well from their time together in Edmonton. He said Nichols can be dangerous if he has time.

"With his quick game, if he can get the protection and get the ball downfield, he's pretty good at putting the ball where it needs to be, so that's why we're gonna try to disrupt them early," Lacey said.

The Riders are preparing for a heavy dose of running back Timothy Flanders, who was arguably the Redblacks’ best weapon in week one, in the air and on the ground, finishing 39 yards rushing and seven receiving.

But the Riders have been good stopping the run, allowing only 79 rushing yards in two games so far.

"He’s a short, stout guy, he gets his feet going downhill and he can do some damage, but you get him stopping his feet and he’s not as effective," Lacey said.

On the injury front, Saskatchewan saw offensive lineman Brett Boyko return to practice on Thursday after missing last week with an illness. Dickenson expects him to play.

A.C. Leonard also participated in practice and expects to play on Saturday.

The Riders and Redblacks meet at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday at 5 p.m.

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