Roughriders hope bye week helps turn around early slump against Argos
REGINA – Brett Swain returned to his childhood happy place during the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ bye week.
The rookie CFL receiver spent a few days wandering around Disneyland with his wife Mary, in addition to relaxing at his off-season home near the beach in San Diego.
“We went on a lot of rides and had a lot of fun,” Swain said with a big grin. “I love the rides, I love the roller coasters …I know (Disneyland) is mostly meant for kids, but it was good to just be there and be around all of that fun stuff.”
Riderville has been anything but the happiest place on Earth the past few weeks as the Riders have suffered two straight losses and have been outscored 74-28 over that span. Their 1-2 record has the defending Grey Cup champions in last place in the competitive West Division standings.
The Riders will host another scuffling team on Saturday, the Toronto Argonauts (1-3), who have also endured back-to-back losses since they dismantled the Riders 48-15 in Week 2.
“Whether it’s going well or going not so well, it’s always good to take a break and get your mind off of things and then you come back and refocus,” said Swain, who bounced around with three NFL teams before he signed with the Riders this past winter.
“I’ve been on both ends of the stick where I go into the break with a losing record and with a winning record and there really is no difference. (The bye week) is just a good time to reset. We still have a long 14 weeks ahead of us.”
Refreshed and rejuvenated have been popular words used by the Roughriders during practice this week at Mosaic Stadium. Players stopped short at calling the mini two-game losing streak a slump.
Rather, they feel the time away from the turf allowed them to take a look at the simpler aspects of the game – the fundamentals.
“When you start to lose and you don’t know where to look first, a lot of it comes down to just playing football,” said Swain, who was held without a catch in the Riders’ Week 3 loss to the B.C. Lions.
“Take a look at what you do on an every day basis – catching the football, carrying the football, throwing the ball, making tackles. It’s like when a (baseball) hitter goes into a slump. The first thing you want to do is slow things down, sit back on the ball and take it to right field. Just keep it simple.”
Fellow receiver Taj Smith agreed with Swain’s take, and added the team’s recent woes come down to poor execution.
“It’s a team thing as far as the players go,” said Smith, who leads the Riders with 11 catches, 169 receiving yards and two touchdowns. “We put ourselves in some binds as far as penalties, dropped passes and missed tackles. Once we clean that up, I feel that the sky is the limit for us.
“Execution has been the biggest thing. Being fundamentally sound as a team is what we need to focus on.”
It was another busy week for the Riders as far as personnel is concerned. The carousel at running back continued as the Riders cut veteran Hugh Charles and added Will Ford, a former East Division all-star who was recently let go by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Two weeks ago, the Riders signed running back Jerome Messam and, when placed in the mix with incumbents Anthony Allen and Keith Toston, gives the Riders four running backs.
Who will start against the Argos is still anyone’s guess. All four players were given reps during practices this week.
“I really can’t tell you, and that’s my honest opinion,” head coach Corey Chamblin said when asked about Saturday’s starter in the backfield. “Those guys are doing a good job, all of them rotating through and it depends on how we end up liking our packages.”
Veteran slotback Chris Getzlaf, one of three 1,000-yard receivers with the Riders in 2013, was very limited at practices this week as he is nursing a quadriceps injury. First-year Rider Chaz Schilens is expected to start in place of Getzlaf.
© The Canadian Press, 2014