CFL Pass

Saskatchewan Roughriders bring in reinforcements on defensive line

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have added a familiar face to their banged-up defensive line.

International defensive tackle Jeremy Faulk, who went to training camp with Saskatchewan in May, rejoined the CFL team for Wednesday’s practice at the University of Regina.

The Riders are without Zack Evans, who aggravated a hip injury in Thursday’s 24-19 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Fellow defensive tackle Micah Johnson also injured his right ankle in that game and won’t make the trip to Montreal for Friday’s clash with the Alouettes.

In their absence, backups Makana Henry and Charbel Dabire are expected to step into larger roles.

Now Faulk is an option as well.

“With the injuries we’ve had, we’re going to bring him on and see if he can help us,” said head coach Craig Dickenson, whose team departed for Montreal after Wednesday’s practice. “We’ll decide who plays when we get over there, but he is going to come on the trip.”

The Riders also practised without defensive end A.C. Leonard and defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy. Leonard has been dealing with a shoulder issue while Purifoy suffered an ankle injury in practice on Tuesday.

“(Leonard) feels OK, so it’s just a matter of if he’s going to be effective or not,” Dickenson said. “We’ll see. They’re game-time decisions, both of them. They’re probably going to be OK but we’ll make the decision tomorrow.”

The same goes for leading receiver Shaq Evans (ankle), who didn’t practise for the second straight day. Rookie Justin McInnis saw first-team reps in his absence.

Newcomer Kenny Stafford — acquired Monday from the Edmonton Eskimos — also figures into the equation.

“The offence will rotate how they feel (is right) but Stafford will play a lot if Shaq can’t go,” said Dickenson, whose advice is to “just play the system” regardless of who’s in the lineup. “That’s what we’ve preached to our guys the entire time is: ‘Play the system, take what the defence gives you.’ If it isn’t Shaq out there, hopefully one of the other guys steps up when they get their opportunity.”

That also applies to the defensive line, where Leonard is the latest question mark. If he’s out, the Riders’ depth will be seriously tested in multiple spots along the D-line.

“You can lose sleep over it but it’s just life,” Dickenson added. “Every team faces it. We’re having a little bit of adversity but we’ve got good players in-house that are ready to step up.”

gharder@postmedia.com

Source: montrealgazette.com