Skip to content

Mace makes his mark on the Rider roster

The Saskatchewan Roughriders roster remake takes another step on cut-down day.
Roughrider Head Coach Corey Mace and Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Jeremy O'Day

On Saturday, the Saskatchewan Roughriders made 36 player moves to adhere to the Canadian Football League’s roster limit.

Moved to the practice roster:

Habakkuk Baldonado, Jacob Brammer, Antoine Brooks Jr., Joe Couch, Zack Fry, Jordan Herdman-Reed, Frankie Hickson, Daniel Johnson, Zakoby McClain, Dohnte Meyers, Joe Robustelli, and Caleb Sanders.

Moved to the 6-game injured list:

Dhel Duncan-Busby, Jaxon Ford, and Nick Wiebe.

While players released were:

Richard Aduboffour, Geronimo Allison, T.J. Brunson, C.J. Coldon, Tre’ Crawford, Diego Fagot, Mason Fine, Evan Floren, Nicario Harper, Sidney Houston Jr., Katley Joseph, Brayden Lenius, Kalija Lipscomb, R.J. McIntosh, D’Sean Mimbs, Jake Parker, Antonio Pipkin, Morgen Runge, Eric Smith, Nick Thomas, and Jordan Tucker.

There are a lot of names to process on that list. The two that seem to have caught the attention of Rider Nation are Quarterback Mason Fine and Receiver Brayden Lenius. Let’s take a deeper look.

Let’s first begin with credit where credit is due. Vice-President of Football Operations and General Manager Jeremy O’Day and his team assembled a great group of young, talented, and hungry athletes this off-season. This group of players not only challenged for roster spots but also pushed incumbents to be at their best, raise their execution and competition levels.

Back to the roster moves, Eva Burrows once said, “People want progress, but they don't want change,” and that may be true regarding some of the Rider Nation's reactions.

At Quarterback, the competition between, Mason Fine, Shea Patterson, Antonio Pipkin, and Jack Coan to back up Trevor Harris was intense every day at training camp. While we are not privy to what happened in the meeting rooms, every rep and portion of their play was under the microscope on the field. In the end, it wasn’t as much about what Fine and Pipkin didn’t do, it was more about what Patterson and Coan did.

Patterson showed command of the huddle and an ability to read coverages and move the pocket when required. He was operating the offense with a lot of success with minimal mistakes. In the two pre-season games he completed 8 of 11 passes for 118 yards, 1 Touchdown, and 2 completions over 30 yards.

Jack Coan signed with the Riders in March after spending parts of the last two seasons with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent and with San Antonio of the XFL. Coan came to camp in great condition and while he started slowly adapting to the Canadian game his progress was on a steady incline throughout camp. His growth was evident as he was able to move up the practice depth chart to get more and more meaningful reps. The coach’s decision to play him the entire third quarter in their second pre-season game in Edmonton was further evidence of their growing confidence in the young pivot, despite him going 1-for-3 for just 3 yards.

In the receivers’ room, the competition throughout training camp was fierce with a lot of talent and playmaking ability on display daily. The decision to release Lenius was a difficult one. In four seasons with the Roughriders Lenius caught 58 passes for 659 yards and 5 touchdowns. There was a lot of upside for the 6’5” 220lb Regina-born receiver who was selected in the second round of the 2019 CFL and drafted 19th overall. However, after suffering a pair of tough injuries that limited him to two games in 2023 and being unable to participate in training camp with lingering effects from those ailments, other national receivers were able to pass him on the depth chart, like Dehl Duncan-Busby and Ajou Ajou.

Deh Duncan-Busby, who was selected in the third round 23rd overall showed athleticism and playbook understanding throughout camp. He was injured late in the three evaluations causing him to miss most of the final week with a hand injury that has him on the six-game injured list.

Ajou Ajou the Riders' seventh-round pick played with a chip on his shoulder throughout camp. His athleticism and focus made him a reliable playmaker in many teams’ periods.

Also raising the eyebrows of Rider Nation was the demotion of running back Frankie Hickson to the practice roster. The engaging running back was great throughout training camp. However, the emergence of Clint Ratkovich as a quick runner, good blocker, and an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield was too good to ignore by the Rider brass.

All in all, there were some tough discussions within the Saskatchewan Roughriders meeting rooms but in the end progress requires change and the Green and White have initiated change with the construction of their 2024 roster.