Riders Training Camp Preview: Offensive Line

The Saskatchewan Roughriders really have one battle on the offensive line and it’s a key one. Left Tackle.

In: Dominic Picard, Ben Heenan, Brendon LaBatte, Johan Asiata, Xavier Fulton
Out: Gene Makowsky, Marc Parenteau, Alexandre Gauthier
Returning: Dan Goodspeed, Chris Best, Alex Krausnick-Groh, Patrick Neufeld, Dan Clark, Nick Hutchins, Nerraw McCormack

Camp Battle Grade: B - The reason for the B grade with one spot open is due to the fact it is left tackle.

Alex Gauthier had an okay start to last season but as his play dropped off, so did the offensive production as Darian Durant was left looking over his shoulder more times than not.

So who will be protecting Durant’s blindside? My money is on Xavier Fulton. The Riders dealt a draft pick to Edmonton for the tackle and were very happy with what he did at their mini-camp a month ago.

That’s not to say it’s a given as other import tackles Johan Asiata and Nerraw McCormack (who was added late last season) are both capable tackles.

The other big camp battle will be for the back-up spot, unless someone comes through and makes veteran import tackle Dan Goodspeed sweat. I’m looking at non-imports Patrick Neufeld and rookie Ben Heenan when saying that, although I doubt that happens (this year, anyway).

The interior of the line is a near certainty with Brendon LaBatte, Dominic Picard and Chris Best coming off great seasons in 2011.

But what happens with Neufeld, Heenan, Clark, Krausnick-Groh and Hutchins? I can see three of those being placed on the 46-man roster with the other two placed on injured list or practice roster.

I still think if a team takes an injury early in the season, they will be calling Saskatchewan immediately to snag one of these five players. Obviously Heenan is untouchable, as is Krausnick-Groh with his long snapping prowess so Neufeld, Clark and Hutchins will be pressed to show the coaches the team’s patience with them has paid off over the last two seasons.

Other Previews:

Defensive Line


Defensive Backs

Running Backs