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'Testament to the depth of the room': Riders' defence prepared to keep rolling in wake of injuries


When the Roughriders take to the field this week they will be without two defensive linemen in Charbel Dabire and Christian Albright.

Both were sidelined with significant knee injuries in last week’s matchup against the Argos.

“They’re both looking long-term unfortunately. It’s tough for those guys and tough for the team,” Head Coach Corey Mace told reporters.

However, Mace was adamant that he feels the team is deep enough to not have to seek the free agent market.

“We kind of have some depth at the position and guys who can swing [to] a couple spots for us,” he explained. “We’ll always be open if there’s something that jumps out to us but we’re certain we have the guys now.”

Defensive lineman Micah Johnson shared his thoughts on the absence of both Dabire and Albright.

“It does affect us. You can’t lie and say it doesn’t. Those are two very good players for us. But at the same time I think it’s just a testament to the depth of the room,” Johnson said.

“Coach doesn’t lose with any of the guys. When the next guy steps up, we don’t expect a drop-off. Whoever is in there has to meet the standard.”

Last game, the Riders had nine defensive lineman on the roster: Johnson, Malik Carney, Anthony Lanier II, and Bryan Cox Jr. were listed as the starters.

Nicholas Dheilly, Habakkuk Baldonado, Dabire, Albright, and Lake Korean-Moore were behind them.

On top of Albright and Dabire, Carney has been limited at practice this week and even took a day off on Wednesday.

He’s listed at questionable for the upcoming game. Mace was adamant Carney would be in the lineup this week.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Dheilly is listed as out.

“Just guys dealing with nicks and bumps. Dheilly dealing with a little bit of upper body stuff. Carney’s dealing with a little but [of a knee injury],” Mace said. “It’s nothing long-term and the two guys [in Albright and Dabire] those were the unfortunate ones. For these guys it’s just regular old football stuff.”

This week Miles Brown and Caleb Sanders have been tasked with stepping up to fill the voids on the d-line.

But the group as a whole has been adjusting to the position shuffle.

“Everybody has to be dialled in. Everybody’s in the playbook. Guys kind of have to know multiple positions right now. You don’t know what’s the pairing. You have to open yourselves up to special teams, a lot of us our picking up the pieces on special teams. It’s just about everybody being dialled in,” Johnson said.

“Guys can play multiple spots. Anthony [Lanier] can play inside, outside, Habakkuk can play inside or outside, Bryon Cox can play either end.”

Mace said the flexibility of his players is paying off in big ways.

“We do have guys that can play multiple spots which is a plus,” he explained. “We do have the flexibility to throw different lineups at the opponent. You have to be smart with that to make sure they’re still in their natural positions and understanding what they need to do.”

Brown is embracing the role of stepping back into the lineup after suiting up for two of the team’s four games this year.

“It’s really disheartening to lose them. Now we have jobs to do and we don’t expect any drop off. We expect all of us to perform and to perform well,” he shared.

The defence as a whole has been one of the key reasons the Riders have started the season 4-0.

Heading into Week 6, they were leading the league with a +10 turnover ratio. They’ve recorded nine interceptions and forced 14 turnovers so far.

However, B.C. is leading the league in net offence and passing yards with quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. at the helm.

“His numbers are crazy right now,” Johnson exclaimed. “He’s a big play guy. He can see the whole field. He’s elusive and can get out of the pocket. So for us we need to eliminate the big plays, try to make them grind it out and take the field in by inch.”

The Riders and Lions will battle it out on Saturday at B.C. Place. Kickoff is slated for 5:00 p.m. Pacific. Top Stories

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