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Riders return to Regina for remainder of training camp

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After their final pre-season matchup against the Edmonton Elks over the weekend, the Saskatchewan Roughriders returned to Regina Monday for the remainder of training camp.

The team was in Saskatoon for rookie camp and the first few weeks of training camp but will finish out in Regina before heading to Edmonton for week one of the regular season.

“The main thing is just knowing that we don’t have another [pre-season] game. Usually people have something to look forward to get the amped up but we’re done. So how are you going to approach these standard practices because this is still training camp. It still counts. You have to be just as detailed in the playbooks. Come out here and treat it like there’s a game,” said head coach, Corey Mace when asked what he needs to see from players this week.

There are still pre-season games left on the CFL calendar but the Riders will sit this coming weekend out.

But without another game for players to showcase their talents the coaching staff is left with trying to evaluate them before having to make final cuts next week ahead of the regular season.

“First week some guys stepped up. Second week some guys stepped up. So you know you want consistency from guys. But at the same time there’s really good guys at that [each] position,” Mace said.

The Riders went 2-0 in the pre-season and most recently came out on top in a close, 28-27 victory of the Elks on Saturday.

There were a few big moments in the game that lead to the Riders victory and that included a pick six from linebacker, Antoine Brooks Jr. when he intercepted McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s pass on the Edmonton 46 yard line and ran it into the end zone.

“I watched [it] come out of his hand and threw it right into mine. Honestly I just had to lay everything out on the line just to show the players and coaches and everybody … that I can really play football,” Brooks recalled.

Mace was sure to commend the Riders’ defence on their performance against the Elks.

“We did a good job you know turning the ball over. From a special team’s standpoint from a defensive standpoint,” Mace said.

“It’s really good to see we do have a knack for the ball and we’ve kind of had that since camp started. But it’s easy to look at the good stuff, as coaches we have to look at the bad stuff. But definitely had to give those guys their props getting the turnovers.”

Monday’s practice had a different feel with veterans Micah Johnson, Anthony Lanier II, and Shawn Bane Jr. all not participating. However, Mace said he’s confident that the veterans’ absences are nothing to worry about.

“Those guys will be ready to go,” he said. “They’re just dealing with some small things, so being smart. They have to stay locked in the playbook. It was good to see them out here getting mental reps in.”

Receiver Brayden Lenius has yet to suit up for training camp. Mace has said the team is still cautiously waiting for the season but was optimistic it could be sooner than expected.

Mace also set a standard at practice on Monday when he halted drills and scrimmages on two occasions to address the team’s effort levels and change the course of action.

“I like tossing those at the guys once and awhile. It’s a learning activity for us,” he explained. The other one I had to mention we’re having too many penalties for my liking. So we’re going to be accountable in that. Some guys getting some extra conditioning so I had to be clean on that.”

When asked if trimming the roster could come sooner due to no game this weekend, Mace said he wants more time with the team to make those decisions.

“We still have some things we want to see for a few days of practice,” he shared.

“The plus of having more reps, still having more opportunity for these guys to put their best foot forward.”

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