Category Archives: Cameron Judge

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Saskatchewan Roughriders Free Agency Preview

It’s amazing how fast things change in one year. In 2019, the Saskatchewan Roughriders free agency period was blanketed with a cloud of uncertainty. Chris Jones, the VP of Football Operations, Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator headed south to Cleveland for an opportunity in the NFL. Both of the Riders quarterbacks were free agents leaving many to wonder what this team would look like come kick-off.

Fast forward one year, Craig Dickenson earned himself a Coach of the Year nomination and Cody Fajardo was a finalist for Most Outstanding Player. There’s less stress in 2020 for the Riders but that doesn’t mean there isn’t business to take care of.
Saskatchewan Roughriders Current Free Agents
Quarterback
None

Running Back
None

Wide Receiver
Emmanuel Arceneaux, Denzel Radford, Naaman Roosevelt, Cory Watson

Offensive Line
Dariusz Bladek, Philip Blake, Thaddeus Coleman, Jeremy Zver

Defensive Line
Lavar Edwards, Micah Johnson, Jordan Reaves

Linebacker
Brandyn Bartlett, DyShawn Davis, Solomon Elimimian, Alexandre Gagne, Sam Hurl

Defensive Back
None

Special Teams
None
Who’s Back?
The Saskatchewan Roughriders free agency period got off to a hot start with a flurry of re-signings before the doors swing open Tuesday. There were plenty of big names that many Rider fans feared would be testing the open market. Ed Gainey, Nick Marshall, Shaq Evans, AC Leonard and Cameron Judge will all be back in green & white for 2020.

The @sskroughriders seal the deal with the first major of the game courtesy of Cody Fajardo finding Shaq Evans with a 61-yard strike! #CFLGameDay pic.twitter.com/1PdrQkI1vD
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) October 6, 2019

Saskatchewan has also done a good job of retaining the likes of Dan Clark, Jon Ryan, Kienan LaFrance, Takoby Coefield, Chad Geter & Elie Bouka. While there has been plenty of chaos surrounding the likes of Matt Nichols, Nick Arbuckle, Willie Jefferson and Zach Collaros (rightfully so), the Riders have quietly gone about retaining a majority of their roster that propelled them to 13 wins and a West Final appearance.
Who’s Left?
Reports have been surfacing that two big names will not be returning to Saskatchewan in 2020. Naaman Roosevelt and Solomon Elimimian. After extending Shaq Evans to a deal reportedly worth $175,000, it seems likely that Saskatchewan will run with the younger receivers they have in the pipeline that includes Paul McRoberts, Justin McInnis, Kyran Moore, Jordan Williams-Lambert & Kenny Stafford.

Upfront, Dariusz Bladek, Thaddeus Coleman and Philip Blake remain unsigned, it remains to be seen if deals will be reached before free agency opens. All three started at various points throughout the 2019 season.

On the defensive side of the ball, prized free agent from 2019, Micah Johnson remains a pending free agent. Jordan Reaves, Sam Hurl and DyShawn Davis round out key contributors who are set to hit the market.
What do the Riders need?
With Jeremy O’Day taking care of business by re-signing a range of star players and key role players, the Riders don’t exactly have to make a giant splash this free agency. While it may not put them at the top of any “Who had the best Free Agency?” lists, it was vital that they got this done before February 11th.
Additional Pass Rushers
That being said, it wouldn’t hurt Saskatchewan to add additional pass-rushers to rotate with Charleston Hughes and Leonard. If Johnson does leave in free agency, it appears Zack Evans and Makana Henry would fill in at the tackle spots.

#ChalkTalk | Micah Johnson Appreciation Week:@yours_truly4
remains unimpeded, even with double or triple teams from the opposition! 👀
🎥 » https://t.co/E93ZnOhF7F#UniteInGreen pic.twitter.com/chIUYerKIj

— Saskatchewan Roughriders (@sskroughriders) July 5, 2019

Linebackers
Re-signing Judge was massive for the Riders, however, with the departure of Derrick Moncrief and likely Elimimian, they’ll need to add to this group once free agency opens. Finding someone of Moncrief’s diversity of talents at linebacker in coverage will be difficult but this free-agent class boasts a solid crop of talent that the Riders can target that includes but is not limited to Maleki Harris, Micah Awe, Kevin Brown II and Marcus Ball.
Offensive Line Depth
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of their own free agents the Riders can re-sign that would alleviate the urgency of this need. However, at the moment, Terran Vaughn, Brendon LaBatte, Dan Clark, Dakoda Shepley and Takoby Coefield are who make up the Riders crop of proven offensive linemen under contract.

Free agents such as Ryker Matthews and Derek Dennis may come at too steep of a price-tag for the Riders. However, there is a number of pending free agent offensive linemen that Saskatchewan can target. Such as Justin Renfrow, Spencer Wilson, Jean-Simon Roy or Tyler Holmes.
Sit Back and Wait
The cliche saying goes “the Grey Cup isn’t won in February!” but that doesn’t mean a team can’t help their chances. Saskatchewan has done the most important thing before free agency has opened and that’s securing their franchise quarterback and retaining their star-calibre players. Anything they do after that is the icing on the cake. Don’t mistake that statement with complacency.

If the Riders want to hoist the Grey Cup on home soil in nine-months, they’ll need to add difference makers at linebacker and depth at other key spots. But for the time being, Saskatchewan Roughriders’ free agency in 2020 is much need departure from the chaos that surrounded this franchise last year at this time.

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Saskatchewan Roughriders Training Camp Battles

After a very long off-season that consisted of everything from a wild free agency period, a tutorial in provincial labour laws thanks to the CBA negotiations and everything in between, football season is almost here. Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp battles will be the consuming the headlines in the weeks to come, below is a primer of who will be competing at what positions before week one. Under the watch of new head coach Craig Dickenson, there will be plenty of positions up for grabs.
Back-up Quarterback
Last season around this time, it was a battle for the starting quarterback position that was dominating headlines. Zach Collaros and Brandon Bridge duked it out for the starting spot. Collaros ended up winning out but Bridge saw plenty of time in Collaros’ absence, including the West Semi-Final.

That brings us to 2019, after striking out on Bo Levi Mitchell, Mike Reilly and Trevor Harris, the Riders brought back veteran pivot, Collaros. But it didn’t stop there, Saskatchewan brought aboard journeyman quarterback Cody Fajardo to compete with David Watford. Many fans will remember Watford getting his reps during Chris Jones’ infamous quarterback carousel in Collaros’ absence.

Fajardo brings with him three years of CFL experience but just 414 yards passing to show for it. His rushing stats are what stand out, however, with 437 yards and 13 touchdowns to show for his work.
Wide Receiver
The receiver position has overgone an overhaul over the last number of seasons. Back in 2017, Duron Carter, Bakari Grant and Naaman Roosevelt led the way. All three eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards that season. The up and coming Caleb Holley also put up 600 yards of his own. Now, two years later, just Roosevelt remains.

In the CFL’s off-season depth chart series, second-year player Shaq Evans appears to have the boundary receiver position held-down. However, opposite of him there’s a battle of Nationals at the field receiver position between Cory Watson and Mitch Picton. Watson was added this past free agency to provide a veteran presence on what is otherwise a young receiving corps.

Watson appeared in 18 games last season for the BC Lions, hauling in 38 catches for 408 yards and three touchdowns. Picton, on the other hand, has been biding his time on the Riders practice roster over the last two seasons. With Collaros firmly supplanted as the team’s starting pivot, both receivers should have equal opportunity to build rapport and prove their worth over camp and pre-season.
Offensive Line
The Riders have an interesting mix of young and old on the offensive line, which may come as a benefit. Left tackle is presumed to be anchored by Takoby Cofield, though Terran Vaughn started the first seven games of the 2018 season. At left guard, Brendon LaBatte will enter as the starter. However, it certainly helps that the Riders signed Dakoda Shepley who can step in if needed. Injuries hit the Riders offensive line in waves last season. Dan Clark will hold down the center position.

The most intriguing battle in the trenches may come at right guard. 33-year-old Philip Blake and former 11th overall pick in 2017 Dariusz Bladek appear to be vying for the starting spot. Both are nationals. At right tackle, Thaddeus Coleman will likely hold his spot as he did in 2018.
Cornerback
Again, citing the CFL’s off-season depth chart, it appears Crezdon Butler will be moving outside after spending a few seasons at defensive halfback. The emergence of Nick Marshall last season at least ensures one of the two cornerback spots are solidified. However, Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post reported May 20th that slotback Kyran Moore was going up against Butler in various drills. Assuming Ed Gainey and Loucheiz Purifoy hold onto their spots, Butler with his experience would be a good fit opposite of Marshall.
Middle Linebacker
Finally, at middle linebacker, an interesting battle is taking place. Let’s pretend for a second that Solomon Elimimian is pencilled in at the weak-side linebacker spot and Derrick Moncrieff is on the strong side. That leaves Cameron Judge and Sam Hurl to compete for the middle linebacker position. Hurl has the experience of having been in the league since 2012 and has also been a major contributor on special teams. Judge, on the other hand, is a former second-overall selection from the 2017 draft. He burst on to the scene last season with 41 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Both Hurl and Judge are nationals. This may be the most interesting battle at Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp.
The Last Word
Needless to say, there are plenty of more battles that are going to take place at the Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp. Players mentioned above may be surprise cuts or perhaps traded. Others may emerge as dark horses that many did not see coming, such as Marshall last season. No matter how you look at it, competition brings out the best in others and the Riders have plenty to offer in 2019’s training camp. Rider fans will hope it all translates to on-field play come kick-off June 13th against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

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