NEWS
08/04/2011 06:38 EDT | Updated 10/04/2011 05:12 EDT

Lions linebacker Kornegay admits it's a little personal playing old teammates

SURREY, B.C. - It's the perfect scenario for Tad Kornegay.

The hard-hitting linebacker will play his CFL first game as a B.C. Lion on Friday night against his old team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Kornegay was careful with his answer when asked if the game at Empire Field was personal, since the Riders released him earlier this year.

"It's hard to say no, but you can't look at it that way,'' said Kornegay, who spent four seasons in Saskatchewan and won a Grey Cup in 2007.

"I'm going to play hardnosed football. I'm not going to let up just because they are my old teammates. I would love to win this game.''

Lions defensive back Korey Banks thinks his 29-year-old teammate wants to send a message.

"Nobody wants to get cut,'' said Banks. "Then play your old team the next (game), that is great.

"That's an ideal story for him. He knows those guys and they know him. He will have a good game.''

The game will pit two struggling teams against each other. The Riders are 1-4 while B.C. is the league's only winless team at 0-5.

Wide receiver Weston Dressler is off to a good start this season with 26 catches for 389 yards and two touchdowns. He said the Riders aren't used to looking up at other teams in the standings.

"Ever since I've been here we've gotten off to pretty good starts,'' he said. "It's a different situation. We kind of look back to last year a bit. We went through that stretch toward the end of the year where I think we lost four games in a row. We are tying to use that as a little motivation.

"We found a way to get out of that and dig ourselves back to the top. We are hoping we can come out of this and start winning some games.''

The Lions know a win keeps them in the West Division mix. A loss shoves them deeper into the league basement.

"It's definitely an important game,'' said slotback Geroy Simon. "We want to start winning and we want to start winning now.

"We can't focus on our record. We can't focus on what happened two or three weeks ago. We have to go out and win this game. It's a must-win game.''

The Riders have scored a league-low 101 points this season. The Lions defence has allowed a league-high 161 points.

"It's going to be like a playoff game,'' said Banks. "Both teams know what is on the line.

"It's going to be war, like usual. We have to be the team that makes the most plays.''

Dressler said the Saskatchewan offence hasn't been bad, it just hasn't been good enough.

"When we have had those opportunities to make the big plays, we've been a half step slow here, or a dropped ball there,'' he said.

"Those have made the difference in the game. I think we have the talent on the team to start winning games. We just have to be better and more consistent.''

Kornegay was signed in an effort to shore up a Lions defence that has allowed the most yards rushing (648) and yards passing (1,522) in the league.

"We just need a win here,'' said Kornegay. "What a perfect time to play Saskatchewan.

"I'm not saying Saskatchewan has a bad team. I think they are a pretty good team, but we are both struggling. It's probably one of the easiest wins you will get if you do get the win. I think this is the perfect time for everything to happen.''

Kornegay still isn't sure why the Riders released him.

"I was more confused, just like the whole world was confused,'' he said. "Nobody understands why they released me.

"Their reasons didn't make sense. I can't be bitter. Everybody is going to be released in their career.''

Dressler is expecting a battle against his old teammate.

"It's going to be different,'' he said. "He just makes plays.

"It always seems you find him around the ball. Whether it's coming up on a run play or somehow making it down the field and breaking up a pass. He's just a playmaker. He has a knack for the football.''

The Lions have also moved J.R. LaRose back to starting safety because of an elbow injury to veteran Davis Sanchez.

One player who won't be dressed Friday is receiver Arland Bruce, who B.C. acquired in a trade from Hamilton on Wednesday. Bruce is not expected to start practising with the Lions until next week.

One reason the Lions are winless is the number of passes dropped by receivers.

Rookie Dobson Collins, who has let several balls slip through his fingers, has been put on the practice roster. Nick Moore, who dropped a pair of touchdown catches in the opening loss to Montreal, is back after an injury but may be on a short leash.

Receivers coach Travis Moore said it might be a case of young players trying to do too much.

"It's more focusing,'' he said. "Some guys put too much pressure on themselves to make a play and drop the easy ones.''

Quarterback Travis Lulay, who has been guilty some nights of not finding the open man, still has confidence in all his receivers.

"I just keep firing away,'' said Lulay. "I'm in a position where I have to trust these guys and I truly do.