SPORTS

With Sheets' return still a week away, Riders hope ground game finds traction

09/27/2013 05:20 EDT | Updated 11/27/2013 05:12 EST
REGINA - The Saskatchewan Roughriders aren't going to rush Kory Sheets back into the lineup.

The explosive Saskatchewan Roughriders tailback resumed practising in earnest these last few days. But, despite the fact that he appears to be running well again, head coach Corey Chamblin has decided to give him another week off to rest his injured knee.

That means that Chris Garrett, the former Winnipeg Blue Bombers star, will get his second start when the Roughriders line up against the Alouettes in Montreal on Sunday.

Garrett gained 30 yards, on nine carries, in his debut in Green and White last week during a loss to the visiting B.C. Lions.

Chamblin speculates that nerves might have been a factor for Garrett, and he's expecting a stepped-up performance now that butterflies in the stomach are no longer a factor.

"I don't think I have anything to prove," Garrett told reporters Friday. "I'm just looking to go out there and do my best ... I'm ready to go."

Chamblin is hoping a strong running game will restore the confidence of Saskatchewan's offensive line, and it should help that guard Ben Heenan is returning to active duty after missing several games himself.

"I'm not sure exactly what my role will be this week, or how much I will play," Heenan said, "but I'm looking forward to the game."

In Heenan's mind the ground attack is no more important than the passing game, "but it does give (opponents) one more thing to worry about."

After opening the CFL season with eight victories in nine games, Saskatchewan has lost three in a row and fallen to 8-4. Chamblin takes solace in the fact that the losses have been by narrow margins.

"If we were getting blown out, it would be different," he said. "But we aren't."

The previous two losses, in particular, could have gone either way. In back-to-back defeats at Mosaic Stadium, the Roughriders fell by counts of 31-29 to the Toronto Argonauts and 24-22 to the Lions. The losing streak began with a 25-13 upset at the hands of the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg.

"Every week's important," Heenan said. "I'm not saying this week is more important than any other. To me, the only reason this game is the most important game is because it's the next game."

Garrett has seen no signs of panic. He said the Roughriders remain confident and are also realistic about their present plight.

"You're not going to win them all," he said. "If you do, hats off to you. But you are going to lose some."

Saskatchewan wide receiver Weston Dressler concurs with that sentiment.

"One game at a time," Dressler said. "All it takes is a play here or there to turn a game around."

Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant was his same cool levelled headed self, as well.

"We want to do whatever it takes to win," he said. "We need a win to start off these last six games on a good note. We're going to be fighting for seedings and for home-game advantage. We know that."

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