June 7, 2024

Roughriders-Elks preview: Regarding A Revised Rider Roster

The Roughriders also began their 2023 season in Edmonton, where the visitors won 17-13 on June 11.

Here is a comparison of the Roughriders’ positional charts for the 2023 and 2024 season openers.

Returning Starters (10): QB Trevor Harris; REC Shawn Bane Jr.; REC Samuel Emilus; C Peter Godber; RG Logan Ferland; DT Micah Johnson; DT Anthony Lanier II; LB C.J. Reavis; DB Rolan Milligan Jr.; DB Jayden Dalke.

New Starters (15): RB A.J. Ouellette; FB Clint Ratkovich; REC Jerreth Sterns; REC Kian Schaffer-Baker; REC KeeSean Johnson; LT Trevor Reid; LG Philip Blake; RT Jermarcus Hardrick; DE Malik Carney; DE Bryan Cox Jr.; LB C.J. Avery; LB Jameer Thurman; DB Deontai Williams; DB DaMarcus Fields; DB Nelson Lokombo.

Blake, Cox Jr., Sterns, Schaffer-Baker and Williams all received starting assignments following the 2023 season opener.

The specialists — kicker Brett Lauther, punter Adam Korsak and long snapper Jorgen Hus — are unchanged from last year.

NOTE: Twenty-five starters are listed, whereas there are only 24 players on the field at a time. The discrepancy is due to the inclusion of a fullback — typically a situational player — on the position chart. Therefore, the chart shows 13 starters on offence.

The Roughriders’ 45-man roster includes eight first-year CFLers: Avery, Fields, Ratkovich, Reid, KeeSean Johnson, LB Antoine Brooks Jr., QB Jack Coan and LB Melique Straker.

First-year Roughriders with previous CFL experience: Carney, Hardrick, Ouellette, Thurman, LB Adam Auclair and OL Ryan Sceviour.


Roughriders quarterback Trevor Harris is poised to face a Chris Jones-influenced defence … again.

But there was a time when Harris and Jones were on the same side.

When Harris broke into the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts in 2012, Jones was the team’s Defensive Co-ordinator. They both celebrated a Grey Cup victory to conclude that season.

Since then, Harris has relished the challenge of facing Jones’s defences.

“Chris Jones is going to have great athletes and they can play football,” Harris says. “He’s a very, very hard worker at finding that talent.

“He has been credited quite a few times with getting elite defensive ends who didn’t quite play that position (previously).

“You know that he has always got an eye for that stuff and that he and (Defensive Co-ordinator Jason) Shivers are going to be boiling up some new coverages and things for you see.

“We know we’re going to get some looks that we haven’t seen on film. That’s just how pro football goes, so we’ll be ready to rock and just go out and execute our offence to the best of our ability.”

The unpredictability contributes to the compelling nature of playing quarterback.

“That’s part of the fun of football,” Harris says. “If you knew everything was choreographed and planned, it wouldn’t be quite as fun. The unknown is really the fun part about it.

“The blitzes that we haven’t seen before on film, the looks that we haven’t seen before, being able to read and react is what it’s about. That’s why we do what we do.”


Harris and McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who is to start at quarterback for Edmonton, go waaaaay back.

They were teammates with the United Football League’s Sacramento Mountain Lions in 2011.

Also on that team: Defensive back Terrell Maze, who played for the Roughriders from 2012 to 2015.

Also of note: Mountain Lions running back John David Washington — Denzel Washington’s son.

The head coach: Former Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals field boss Dennis Green.

Green’s most memorable quote: “The Bears are who we thought they were!” (Any further inquiries? Google it!)


Jermarcus Hardrick is counting down the minutes until his 2024 regular-season debut with the Green and Right.

No, that is not a misprint. Read on …

“I’m looking forward to celebrating with my teammates and double-teaming anybody with the guys in green,” the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ starting right offensive tackle says leading up to Saturday’s opener against the green-and-gold-clad Edmonton Elks (2 p.m., Commonwealth Stadium; TSN, CKRM).

“I’m looking forward to being physical with the guys in green — the right green.”

Actually, the genial giant (nickname: Yoshi) doesn’t always choose sides when it comes to being physical. At training camp, for example, he knocked over Kian Schaffer-Baker while celebrating a catch by the popular receiver.

“Yosh is Yosh,” Head Coach Corey Mace says. “You’d better be able to come ready to practise, because he’s going to come at you.

“He’s got energy, juice, life. We preach that. There’s never going to be a real lull, because he’s going to have everybody pick it up. If everybody matches his intensity, we’re in the right space.”

A matching wardrobe is part of the picture for Hardrick, who is a robust proponent of Mace’s accountability-based mantra.

“He made up T-shirts with all of our sayings,” Mace marvels. “I don’t know when he found time to do that, but he’s all-in and you love to see it.”

The Roughriders were all-in on Hardrick from the outset of the CFL’s free-agency negotiating window.

Very early in the process, Mace was FaceTiming with Hardrick, who spent the past eight seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Hardrick was named a West Division All-Star in 2019, when the Blue Bombers snapped a protracted championship drought.

After COVID-19 led to the cancellation of the 2020 CFL season, Hardrick played a key role in the Blue Bombers’ second consecutive Grey Cup-winning season. Also in 2021, he was a league All-Star.

Hardrick made the CFL’s dream team again in 2023, when he received an accompanying honour — recognition as the West’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman.

Now he has brought those credentials to Saskatchewan, which is hardly unfamiliar territory. He played in eight games with the 2015 Roughriders before joining Winnipeg the following year.

“It feels a lot different — a lot more calm,” Hardrick says when asked to compare Chapters 1 and 2 in Saskatchewan. “I’ve lost a lot more weight.

“The game has slowed down. It was only my second year in the CFL. I didn’t even know there were 12 people on the field — let’s not talk about that — so a lot has changed.”

The stadium, for example. During Hardrick’s previous tenure with the Roughriders, the team was based at historic Mosaic Stadium.

He was in the Blue Bombers’ starting lineup on July 1, 2017 when they visited Regina for the first regular-season game in the history of the new stadium, which he now calls home.

“I’m proud to still be in the CFL,” Hardrick says. “I’m proud of the coaches and the league.

“A lot of guys have had my back and given me a chance to still be playing ball. I look forward to waking up every day and I’m excited to still be playing.

“It’s something I don’t take for granted.”


As a member of the Stampeders from 2013 to 2018, defensive tackle Micah Johnson viewed Commonwealth Stadium as enemy territory — given Calgary’s traditional rivalry with Edmonton.

That mindset hasn’t necessarily changed along with his affiliation.

“It’s still kind of there,” says Johnson, a fourth-year Roughrider.

“Going into Edmonton, you’ve got to understand that you’re going into a buzzsaw. They’re a hungry team. They’re eager to turn it around.

“They’ve got a lot of talent over there and they’ve got some good coaches. We’ve got to be ready to go.”


Shea Patterson, who recently earned the Roughriders’ No. 2 spot at quarterback, is excited about the prospects for 2024.

“We’ve got a really special team this year, from top to bottom — the front office, the coaches, and all the players,” he says. “I’m excited to be a part of it.”