The Questions the Riders Need Answers To

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders go into the 2011 season with three major questions.

The biggest of which is the loss of receiver Andy Fantuz. Fantuz had a career year in the CFL, winning the Top Canadian Award, and is now lost in the weeds during the NFL's labour dispute as a member of the Chicago Bears.

Andy Fantuz was the go-to guy for Darian Durant. Durant admits that when he dropped back to pass he always knew Andy would find a way to be open. A reason why Fantuz was one of the league leaders in 2nd down catches. When a quarterback loses his number one target it is a big adjustment and Durant will now have get the same rapport with the current crop of receivers. Weston Dressler is the first receiver that will be looked upon to step up, and thankfully Dressler and Durant have a very good feel for each other going into the season.

But players like Chris Getzlaf, Cary Koch, Jason Clermont and Rob Bagg really need to step it up a notch to have the Roughriders offense continue to grow with Durant at the helm. There should be growing pains and the 2nd and mid to long conversion rate will be the most telling stat on how badly the Roughriders will miss #83.

Another concern for the Roughriders will have to be the coaching changes on defence. Greg Marshall, Richie Hall and Mike Walker will try to re-establish a system some of the team should recognize. Tad Kornegay may be asked to move back to a more conventional defensive back role, one he didn't exactly flourish in at the start of his career. Kornegay was more comfortable being a rover within Etcheverry's defence.

After losing Eddie Davis going into 2010 and now losing Omarr Morgan coming into this season the strong side of the secondary, who handle the best of the best of the opposition receiving corps, are going to have their hands full. Chris McKenzie needs to be better and whether it's Kornegay or Nick Graham on the corner, they'll have to use their athletisicm to compensate for their lack of experience when compared to the two future Plaza of Honor inductees.

The defensive line will be asked to be bigger and badder, which they get immediately from Dario Romero and Tearrius George on paper but the duo need to show the Eskimos and Stampeders made a mistake by letting them come East. Brent Hawkins will be allowed to pin his ears back a little more and get to the quarterback and many fans are excited to see if Brendan Taman hit a home run with Hawkins as the heir apparent to Stevie Baggs and John Chick.

Thankfully for the Roughriders defence, there isn't much to be concerned about at linebacker. No body should doubt the ability of Sean Lucas, Jerrell Freeman, Byron Bullock, Barrin Simpson, Mike McCullough and Kye Stewart.

The final major question for the Roughriders is the special teams. Everything comes with question marks whether it be the kicking game, return game or coverage unit.

Luca Congi is likely on the nine-game injured list to start the season and the Riders will rely on Eddie Johnson to do all three kicking duties, unless rookie Christopher Milo comes in and shows he can kick like pro right from the start of training camp. But many saw Johnson line up for field goals last season and it's clear he needed to work on that over the off-season.

As for the return game, many think Tristan Jackson will be the man to flip field position for the Roughriders. Sorry to sound like a cynic but we all thought that of Dominique Dorsey last season. Jackson has struggled with injuries and if the Roughriders see another Marcus Thigpen come into rookie camp, they shouldn't hesitate to go with them. Look at some of the best returners in the CFL, they're usually no-names at the beginning. Though Jackson is 25-years old, the last two seasons, especially last year, have aged him beyond what his birth certificate says.

As for the coverage unit, the best athletes will get those spots. I believe some of the veterans who have made a career on special teams are going to be pushed severely by two draft picks coming into training camp as 12th overall pick Craig Butler and their last pick Kyle Exume are both being portrayed as special teams demons that the team hopes could improve their punt and kickoff units.

The one common thread is the Riders now have one of the most highly respected CFL special teams minds running the show in Craig Dickenson. I hope he knows how big of a test he has with the third phase of the game that let the team down more often than not over the last few seasons.

And now we watch because it'll be the end of the season before any of these three major questions will be answered by the 2011 Saskatchewan Roughriders.


Regina Roughriders

Anyone can and will cheer for the Roughriders, but make no mistake - they are the Regina Roughriders - not the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The only time they like to refer to Saskatchewan is to wax poetic what dedicated fans we have here (pathetic) when you consider they had to hold a province wide telethon to keep them in exitence for a team playing against 4 others to get 3 playoff spots and missing the playoffs for years and years. Laughable in any other market, the other instance is when mayor Pat Fiasco wants someone to build him a shiny new building and he wants to call it everything other that the football ball stadium it is. The biggest misnomer and mistake the riders made was discontinuing training camp in Saskatoon. Back in those days they truly were the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Now they offer up an afternoon autograph signing session and green and white "game" - NO THANKS!! Stay home Regina Roughriders.

LOL, i think this baby needs

LOL, i think this baby needs his bottle

Brian, Did the Riders invite

Brian, Did the Riders invite you to prom and then dump you the day before for your hotter sister? Cause you sound like a bitter little girl.

What a sad, petty and

What a sad, petty and pathetic little man.....

Regina Roughriders

These comments must hurt......I agree - the Riders blew it when they stopped holding camp in Toon town. Small market team with small thinking. The truth is any other sports market with a brain would have punted these losers after the pathetic record they had year after year after year after year. Yup - the truth hurts!!

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