Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Riders Assistant Coach Kris Sweet Faces Big Challenge Revamping Offensive Line: Sweet Faces Big Challenge with Roughriders

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Riders Assistant Coach Kris Sweet Faces Big Challenge Revamping Offensive Line: Sweet Faces Big Challenge with Roughriders

Article excerpt

REGINA - Kris Sweet faces a formidable challenge in his first season as the Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive line coach and run game co-ordinator.

Sweet, who spent the last five years as the Calgary Stampeders' offensive line coach, has the difficult task of revamping a unit that contributed to the Riders' posting a league-worst 5-13 record last year and missing the CFL playoffs. But thanks to general manager Brendan Taman, at least Sweet has the raw material to successfully rebuild the Riders' front wall.

This off-season, Taman dipped into CFL free agency to sign tackle Brendon LaBatte from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and centre Dom Picard from the Toronto Argonauts. Taman drafted both players while as the Bombers' GM -- Picard in the third round in 2006 and LaBatte in the first round in 2008. Taman also re-signed guard Chris Best before selecting offensive lineman Ben Heenan of the Saskatchewan Huskies first overall in this year's Canadian college draft and also acquired Xavier Fulton from Edmonton for a conditional 2013 sixth-round pick.

That should help ease the loss of veteran guard Gene Makowsky, who retired this off-season after a solid 17-year career, while centre Marc Parenteau and tackle Alex Gauthier were both released.

Despite all the change, Sweet is downplaying the rebuilding aspect.

"Every year is different," he said from the CFL club's training camp at the University of Regina.

This low-key approach mirrors the one being taken by rookie head coach Corey Chamblin, who prefers to say the Riders are "making changes" rather than succumbing to the more sensationalistic term 'overhaul."

Regardless of the semantics, Best and Goodspeed are expected to retain their starting positions with LaBatte and Picard a virtual lock to join them.

"One, they're physical," Sweet said LaBatte and Picard. "The other thing is their experience."

LaBatte spent five seasons with Winnipeg and was a CFL all-star in 2011. Picard is a six-year veteran who started all 18 games in each of the last three seasons with Toronto.

Heenan, who capped his college career with an appearance in the East-West Shrine Bowl in Tampa, Fla., is considered a bright prospect, while Fulton, who spent the 2011 season with the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL, has been on NFL practice squads with the Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.