Special teams focus of Roughrider practice

Reported by Joel Gasson
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The Saskatchewan Roughriders spent Monday morning working on special teams.

They are hardly the most exciting practices to watch, but are still very important when it comes to bringing success on the field for the team this season.

"Especially as much as we play it up here, it can turn around every two plays, which is what I learned from the first game," said defensive end Chris Ellis.

It was also a way to ease the team back into practice after taking Sunday afternoon off for Father's Day. On top of that, the team also has to travel to Moose Jaw Monday night for a practice at the Fieldhouse.

There was some good news for the Riders coming out of the morning session regarding running back Louis Rankin and offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte, as both returned to the field.

"I think he's still recovering from it," said head coach Corey Chamblin of LaBatte's Achilles injury.

"Like I told him, I like to ease him into it."

Chamblin expects LaBatte to slowly push himself throughout the week, and was hopeful that he would be available for Firday's pre-season game against Calgary.

It was also the second practice for newly signed defensive lineman Jay Alford, who signed with the team over the weekend. He last played in the UFL, but also played for the 2008 Super Bowl championship team the New York Giants, where he registered a sack in the game's final minutes.

"Jay (Alford) is a guy we've had on our list for a while," said Chamblin. "Right now it's an evaluation period. He's a little behind the eight ball. We want to see where he was."

Chamblin expects that Alford will play in Friday's game as well, and it will go along way to decide if he's ready to be a starter come week one in Hamilton.

It wasn't all good news for the team. Defensive back Macho Harris was back on the sidelines watching after returning to practice last week. He's having an on going battle with a hamstring injury. Chamblin said that he knows what to expect from Harris, so he they're willing to be patient with him.

As mentioned earlier, the Riders will pack up the bus and head to Moose Jaw for practice Monday evening. It's at the Fieldhouse starting at 7 p.m.

Edited by CJME's Karen Brownlee.