New ar­rival Blake gets nod to start at left guard

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - MUR­RAY MCCORMICK mm­c­cormick@post­ twit­­raylp

WIN­NIPEG It didn’t take long for the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers to add Philip Blake to the start­ing lineup.

Blake is to start at left guard in Satur­day’s game against the host Win­nipeg Blue Bombers, just four days af­ter be­ing ac­quired via trade from the Mon­treal Alou­ettes.

The Rid­ers ac­quired Blake and na­tional re­ceiver Pa­trick Lavoie from Mon­treal at Wednesday’s trade dead­line in ex­change for na­tional re­ceiver Josh Stan­ford and Saskatchewan’s sec­ond-round pick in the 2020 CFL draft.

“When you’ve been around the league as long as I have, you’ve seen where you’ve had to inject an older vet­eran into your of­fence right away,” said Chris Jones, the Rid­ers’ head coach and gen­eral man­ager. “We ex­pect him to not only go out and play, but to play well.”

An undis­closed in­jury suf­fered by cen­tre Dan Clark in Mon­day’s 19-12 win over the vis­it­ing Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos con­trib­uted to Blake be­ing named a starter. Bren­don La­batte will move over from left guard to cen­tre, with Clark placed on the one-game in­jured list.

The tim­ing of the trade ap­pears for­tu­itous with Clark headed to the side­line. Jones, how­ever, said the Rid­ers have had their eyes on Blake for a while due to his ath­leti­cism and abil­ity to play guard, cen­tre and tackle.

The 32-year-old Blake isn’t lack­ing in ex­pe­ri­ence. He has started 57 reg­u­lar-sea­son games in three­plus sea­sons with the Alou­ettes.

Lavoie has also been ac­ti­vated and is ex­pected to see ac­tion on spe­cial teams while back­ing up at slot­back.

Mean­while, it will be a ga­me­time de­ci­sion whether We­ston Dressler plays for the Blue Bombers. The for­mer Rid­ers slot­back is nurs­ing a lower body in­jury that he wanted to give an­other day of rest be­fore test­ing it dur­ing Satur­day ’s pre-game warmup.

“You want to be on the field be­cause you want to help the team win,” Dressler said. “There isn’t any­thing you can do about it at this point. It’s just pre­pare and try to be ready.”

In­juries have lim­ited Dressler’s pro­duc­tion this year. He has dressed for only 11 games, record­ing 39 re­cep­tions for 431 yards and four touch­downs.

Blue Bombers run­ning back An­drew Har­ris has no­ticed a dif­fer­ence with Dressler on the ros­ter. The Bombers are 8-3 in games with Dressler on the ac­tive ros­ter and 0-4 with him on the side­line.

“I hon­estly feel that (Win­nipeg quar­ter­back Matt Ni­chols) is more com­fort­able when (Dressler) is in the game,” Har­ris said. “Those two def­i­nitely gel very well to­gether so it’s big for us.”

The Rid­ers (10-5) have clinched a play­off berth and can lock up a home play­off game for the first time since 2013 with a win and a loss or tie by the B.C. Lions. The Blue Bombers (8-7) have yet to clinch a play­off berth and are look­ing to avoid a three-game sweep by the Rid­ers this sea­son.


Philip Blake was traded by the Mon­treal Alou­ettes to the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers this week and is slated to start at left guard on Satur­day for the Rid­ers against the Win­nipeg Blue Bombers.

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