May 26, 2023

Game Preview | Lions @ Roughriders

Regina, Sask– Following a 13-day dose of orange, black and white practice jerseys, select members of the 2023 BC Lions will now suit up in Fog Gray and hit someone in green as pre-season kicks off with a Saturday evening tilt in Saskatchewan (4 PM/AM730/CFL Preseason Live).

With a roster made up primarily of first-year hopefuls, this first real-game action presents a big opportunity for more than a few guys aiming to stick around past the final roster cuts next week. Any way you draw it up, it’s always exciting to be talking about game days once again and this pre-season tune-up has no shortage of storylines from a Lions perspective.

Dom Davis Expected To Start Amongst QB Trio

With Vernon Adams Jr. still very much penciled in as the leader of the offence, it remains very wide open when talking about who could get the most snaps behind him. Dom Davis and Dane Evans will get a majority of the workload on Saturday with newcomer Judd Erickson also getting the chance to show his body of work in a live game situation. The consensus is clear amongst all those making the trip: bring on the game after more than a dozen practice days in Kamloops.

“It’s been a long off-season, it’s been a long camp going against our guys, so it’s going to be a breath of fresh air going against someone else,” the veteran Davis said.

Added Evans: “It’s been fun. This has been one of the most fun quarterback rooms I’ve been a part of, for sure. I think it’s just cool when you get three older guys like ourselves who have been in it and you mix in a rookie like that’s it’s kind of fun. We’re having a good time, we’re all learning from each other, I think we’re all teaching each other some stuff, and we’re kind of pushing each other. It’s been a really good camp.”

Both veterans agree that the amount of playmakers around them has only eased the transition.

“Those guys have been doing a really good job of picking up the offence and accomplishing some things,” David added.

“It’s been fun. We’ve been having a great connection with these guys and hopefully, it can translate into the game on Saturday.”

Running Back Battle Heats Up

The number one camp storyline for many observers remains who will emerge as a starter at tailback. Always an intriguing saga when the incumbent is a 1,000-yard rusher who departed for another team. The good news is this battle remains very much in play as CFL newcomers Antonio Williams, Taquan “Smoke Mizzell and Buddy Howell Jr. have created a competitive, but fun competition. The challenge now for head coach Rick Campbell and the staff is to start zeroing in on who will stick around.

“It’s good. They’re all three good football players,” Campbell said.

“We have an open mind. Of course, we’re going to take their whole body of work from what they’ve done as soon as they got here, but these games are going to play a huge factor in our decision-making because this is our first time with them playing in a game. Definitely, an interesting battle to watch for the fans and we want to make sure we do a really good job of evaluating these guys correctly so we can play with the best guy possible.”

Defence Provides No Shortage Of Intrigue

We have spoken in our daily reports of the brewing battles on the defensive side, particularly on the line of scrimmage. The D-line features a steady mix of newcomers, including top draft pick Francis Bemiy Jr., while veterans such as Sione Tehuema, Miles Fox and Josh Archibald are also on the trip.

The linebackers and secondary have also boasted no shortage of prospects (a couple are highlighted below) that will make for an interesting process once the roster gets trimmed ahead of the June 8 opener in Calgary.

5 More Newcomers To Watch

** In no particular order:

WR Bryson Daughtry- the rookie out of Elon, University has caught almost everything in sight and was a major offensive factor in last weekend’s FanFest scrimmage

DB Christian Uphoff- with a young core of defensive backs making this trip, Uphoff will get a chance to build off of his solid first pro camp.

LB Ryder Varga– the Regina product looks to have benefited from a final year of college after his first Lions camp in 2022. With plenty of national options at linebacker, Varga’s emergence could prove to be beneficial.

DL Francis Bemiy Jr.– the 2023 first-round draft pick has been a major standout in what has been a fascinating battle on the defensive line. The end out of Southern Utah definitely looks the part.

DL Marcus Moore- it is indeed a deep defensive line unit and Moore has seemingly gotten better as camp has progressed. The first real game action is when the lights truly come on.

Matt Baker: