Not much has gone according to plan this season for Corey Chamblin and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Riders (0-6) are last in the West Division and remain the CFL's only winless team. That's created much speculation regarding the future of Chamblin, who led Saskatchewan to the 2013 Grey Cup title, but has also forced the club to alter its plans regarding the development of its younger players.
This week, Chamblin announced veteran receiver Jamel Richardson, 33, was no longer with the team and it was time to give some younger players the chance to play.
"When you're 0-6, it's time to see what you have," Chamblin told reporters. "Our plan was the vets hold us in the first nine (games of season) and let those rookies get a chance to grow.
"Well, it came a little earlier than the first nine."
Richardson re-signed with Saskatchewan this off-season after missing roughly 18 months recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament in his left knee suffered in 2013 with the Montreal Alouettes. The six-foot-five, 215-pound Richardson began his CFL career with the Riders, playing four seasons with them before heading to the Dallas Cowboys' training camp in 2007.
Richardson returned to the CFL the following season with the Als, helping them win consecutive Grey Cups (2009-10) and being named the MVP of the second championship contest. Richardson had a league-record 12 100-yard games in 2011 when he registered 112 catches for 1,777 yards (tops among receivers) with 11 TDs.
This season, Richardson has 19 catches for 266 yards and no TDs.
The Riders are on the road Saturday night visiting the Toronto Argonauts (3-2), who'll play their first game at Rogers Centre this season.
Injuries to veterans Darian Durant and Kevin Glenn have left the Riders with rookie Brett Smith at quarterback. Smith was 17-of-27 passing for 144 yards with two interceptions in his CFL debut, a 30-5 road loss last week to the Edmonton Eskimos (4-1).
Edmonton's Matt Nichols was 27-of-39 passing for 300 yards and two TD strikes versus a Saskatchewan defence ranked last in points allowed (32.5 per game) and second-last in passing yards (286.3).
Toronto boasts the CFL's top aerial attack (313.2 yards per game). Quarterback Trevor Harris threw for 326 yards and a TD (giving him a league-high 12 on the season) in the Argos' 34-18 road loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Monday night.
Harris has completed 133-of-179 passes (74.3 per cent) for 1,503 yards this season to stand second only to Calgary's Bo Levi Mitchell (1,622).
Pick — Toronto
Edmonton Eskimos at B.C. Lions
Cornerback Pat Watkins was a one-man show against Saskatchewan with two interceptions (one returned for a TD), a sack and team-high five tackles. Edmonton's defence leads the CFL in sacks (17) and fewest points allowed (12.6). Andrew Harris has run for a league-high 401 yards for B.C. (2-3) but both Lions wins have come against Saskatchewan and defensively they have surrendered 400-plus yards in their last two games.
Pick — Edmonton
Montreal Alouettes at Ottawa Redblacks
Ottawa (3-2) hasn't played since upsetting Calgary 29-26 on July 24. Quarterback Henry Burris threw for 389 yards and three TDs in that game and receiver Chris Williams had seven catches for 162 yards and a touchdown. The Redblacks won the first meeting of the season 20-16 as Montreal (2-3) lost both starter Jonathan Crompton and backup Dan LeFevour to injury, forcing Canadian Brandon Bridge to finish. But rookie Rakeem Cato is the Alouettes' starter now.
Pick — Montreal
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Hamilton (3-2) is a stellar 8-0 at Tim Hortons Field. Zach Collaros threw three TD strikes versus Toronto while the Ticats' defence forced five turnovers — including two big third-down gambles — and Brandon Stewart scored after recovering an onside punt. Drew Willy threw two touchdown passes as Winnipeg (3-3) defeated B.C. 23-13 for its first win in three games. Darvin Adams was a favourite target with four catches for 127 yards and a touchdown.
Pick — Hamilton
Last week — 3-1
Overall — 11-13
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press