Monday, December 5, 2022
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CFL Preview: Stampeders host Roughriders in Third Meeting

CALGARY — In the conclusion of their three-game series, the Saskatchewan Roughriders travel to Calgary to take on the Stampeders on Saturday night.

Saturday’s matchup is a tale of two teams; one on the rise and one trending in the opposite direction.

After starting the season with two-straight losses to the Toronto Argonauts and the BC Lions, the Stamps have quietly climbed the West Division standings after winning five of their last eight games. Back-to-back wins over the Riders and a one-sided 39-10 win over the Lions highlights the recent tear the Stampeders have been on.

For the Riders, things have not gone as smoothly. After starting the season looking like the team to beat, the Riders have cooled off. Having gone 2-4 in their last six games, a win against the Stamps is necessary for their hopes of hosting a playoff game.

This time around, the Stamps will be facing a revitalized Riders’ offence with the insertion of Duke Williams, who will make his season debut, and Shaq Evans, who is returning from injury to the lineup. With all that firepower for Cody Fajardo to find on the field, Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson knows that Saturday will be a bigger test for his secondary.

“Shaq is right up there, top five receivers. Duke was there before he left and when you go to the NFL, it’s not like you don’t get good coaching,” said Dickenson. “They’re big, strong, fast guys that we’ll have to do everything we can do to match up.”

As for the health of their own receiving core, the Stamps will get Kamar Jorden back in the lineup this week.

Jorden, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since Week 7, has proven to be a vital part of the Stamps’ offence. His addition to the passing game alongside Josh Huff and Markeith Ambles has allowed Bo Levi Mitchell to share the wealth. The lethality of the Stamps’ passing game has also allowed Ka’Deem Carey to shine and was a huge player in their most recent win over the Riders.

Another dazzling area of the Stamps has been their play on the defensive side of the ball as in their past two meetings against Fajardo, the Stamps have held him to a combined 460 yards.

Calgary’s secondary is poised to only get better in the coming weeks as it was announced that Tre Roberson will be returning to the team.

After spending two seasons in Calgary where Roberson earned a nomination for Most Outstanding Rookie in 2018 and Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2019 alongside a West Division and CFL All-Star nod, he joined the Chicago Bears. In his 32 games played for the Stampeders, Roberson recorded 95 tackles, 10 interceptions, a pick-six, 18 knockdowns and two forced fumbles.

While he won’t see immediate action, the overwhelming consensus issued by the Stamps has been an excitement for his arrival.

“Anytime you can add a guy that’s, arguably, one of the top guys in the league, it’s going to excite everybody on our team,” said Mitchell. “It excites me a lot more knowing that he’s not playing for somebody else and I have to go against him.”

After having a firm grip on the second seed in the West Division, back-to-back losses at the hands of the Stamps have seen that slip away for Saskatchewan. Now, the Riders sit tied with Calgary and know they need to do something different this week.

“One of the pros is that you don’t have a lot of film work,” said head coach Craig Dickenson. “The cons are probably the same thing, they’re familiar with you as well. The challenge is to come up with new and different things that can keep them off balance.”

Of the biggest challenges the Riders will face, one of them will be to contain Carey, who rushed for 109 yards against the Riders in Week 10. His efficiency in the Stamps’ backfield allowed Mitchell to open up the passing game which is something Craig is looking to counter.

“Our emphasis is always to stop the run and force Calgary to be a second-and-long team and force them into passing downs,” said Craig. “That’s something we try to do each week. We haven’t been successful against Calgary and we’re hoping that we do a better job this next game in the run game and specifically tackling number 35 when he has the ball.”

As for their offence, the return of Evans and the addition of Williams to the Riders’ offence is highly anticipated by Fajardo.

“I think it’ll be big for us,” said Fajardo. “I think it’ll inject some life into us. Offensively, any time you get some experienced CFL guys, two guys that have been CFL All-Stars in this league, I think it’ll inject some life into our offence but our team as well. Obviously, it’s their first game back, both of them, so expectations can’t be too high, but I know we’re going to try and get our timing down.”

Recognizing that the Stamps are on a roll right now, Fajardo is hoping that the Riders can help end what they allowed to be created.

“The whole reason they got hot, in my opinion they’re the hottest team in the CFL right now, is because they beat us twice,” said Fajardo. “It’s not like we were getting dismantled by them. It’s a few plays here, a few plays there and maybe it’s a different result, but all credit to them, they found a way to win both games. I think the guys are excited for this opportunity.”

Kickoff is slated for 9:45 p.m. ET on Saturday and can be watched on TSN and ESPN+ or followed along on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.

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