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Ticats don't expect loss of Durant to dramatically impact Riders' attack

09/12/2014 05:50 EDT | Updated 11/12/2014 05:59 EST
HAMILTON - Saskatchewan will have a new quarterback but Orlondo Steinauer is expecting the same old Roughriders.

The Riders will face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday afternoon without veteran Darian Durant under centre. He suffered a season-ending elbow injury in last weekend's 30-24 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, meaning backup Tino Sunseri will start at Tim Hortons Field.

The loss of a starting quarterback can be catastrophic to an offence but Saskatchewan boasts the CFL's top rushing attack (150.6 yards per game). And that's exactly what Steinauer, Hamilton's defensive co-ordinator, is preparing his unit to face.

"They're going to be who they are," he said. "They're going to come out and establish the run.

"They're going to take their shots to the end zone. They're not a conservative passing-game team. They're going to attack us and they're going to do what they do. What they have going for them is they're (the defending Grey Cup) champions, right? They have enough people in that locker room that have won where I'm sure they're just looking at this as a small obstacle."

Sunseri has seen limited action this year, completing 13-of-25 passes for 152 yards and a TD. Durant led the Riders to their season-opening 31-10 win over Hamilton in a rematch of the 2013 Grey Cup game, which saw the Riders beat the Ticats 45-23 at Mosaic Stadium on Nov. 24.

But Hamilton has more to worry about than the absence of Durant. Ticats starter Zach Collaros was sacked 10 times in the season opener while Saskatchewan running back Anthony Allen ran for 158 yards and scored two TDs (one rush, one catch) in that game.

"We made a lot of changes up front (offensively) and we're playing pretty well up front," Hamilton head coach Kent Austin said when asked about the season opener. "I think for the most part we've shored that situation up."

Collaros suffered a concussion in Hamilton's second game of the season, a 28-24 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos on July 4 that forced him to miss five contests. But Collaros feels he's come a long way since the first meeting with Saskatchewan.

"I think overall I've got a better understanding (of the offence) and I know for myself I feel more comfortable," said Collaros, who will play just his third game since his return. "I'm able to react a little more because I'm not thinking as much . . . I think we've gotten better as a unit."

Saskatchewan (8-2) has won seven straight to stand second in the West Division behind the Calgary Stampeders (9-1). Hamilton (2-7) is third in the East Division, just two points behind the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes.

A second-place finish is imperative in the East as it's very likely the fourth-place finisher in the West will cross over and secure the third and final Eastern playoff spot. Hamilton surrendered 31 second-half points last weekend en route to a 38-31 road loss in Montreal.

Austin said time of possession will be key against the Roughriders.

"They're going to try to control the line of scrimmage," said Austin. "Get our offence off the field and then try to wear you down with their offence . . . It's not just their offence running the football effectively (that wears down a team).

"It's their defence getting offences off the field so there's fewer possessions. What happens is your defence gets worn out over the course of the game and it starts to show up later in the game. So we've got to do a good job offensively of staying on the football field."

With Durant injured the Riders signed Keith Price, a former University of Washington star who was released by the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

The football community in Hamilton is mourning the loss of Paul Weiler, who served as Pigskin Pete from 1976 to 2006. He died Wednesday at the age of 80. Weiler never got to see the Ticats play at their new stadium but missed only one game during his tenure leading the Ticats faithful into their traditional "Oskee-Wee-Wee" chant.

Note to readers: This is a corrected version of an earlier story. The Roughriders will play the Tiger-Cats on Sunday afternoon, not Saturday night as previously stated.

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