Roughriders Mailbag: Are more roster moves coming? What’s the plan for Ratkovich? Will Lenius be back?

Saskatchewan Roughriders

Taylor Shire

Regina Leader-Post

Welcome to another edition of the Roughriders Mailbag where we answer questions readers have about the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

After Saturday’s roster cutdown day, the Riders are gearing up for the 2024 season, which begins Saturday when Saskatchewan visits the Edmonton Elks (2 p.m., TSN).

However before then, there are still a few questions about how the team will look in 2024, which we will address below.

By my count, the Rider roster is still over-loaded by one National and four Americans? Aren’t a few more moves required? From Don

You are correct, Don. With the addition of defensive back Marcus Sayles on Tuesday, the Riders currently have 51 players on the active roster and can dress a maximum of 45 players (minimum 44).

However, that’s fine during the week of practice as they will make the roster moves the day before the game (Friday) when the depth chart is released. It looks like we will see six players head to the one-game injured list, where they will either be healthy scratches or given an injury designation. Some could also be placed on the six-game injured list.

Aside from the three quarterbacks, the Riders have 23 Americans on the active roster and can only dress 19 according to the CFL rules, so we will see four Americans taken off the active roster this week. The other two scratches could be Canadian as they currently have 24 on the roster and need to dress at least 21.

We’ll have to wait for the official depth chart to see the moves they’re going to make ahead of the season opener.

I know A.J. Ouellette is the featured running back but with Frankie Hickson on the practice squad, who gets opportunity in the backfield? From John

Will Clint Ratkovitch be playing fullback mostly or third string running back? From Bruce

I can provide one answer for two questions.

While Thomas Bertrand-Hudon is likely be listed as the backup running back to Ouellette, Ratkovich could be the one taking on more work when Ouellette needs a break.

In fact, I think Ratkovich could be a secret weapon for the Riders in 2024.

At Northern Illinois University, he was dubbed a “superback,” meaning he can do it all from rushing to receiving to blocking. In the pre-season, we saw him carry the ball for nearly a six-yard average while also catching two passes. He’s looked good in practice this week too, catching anything that comes his way.

It’s rare for an American to make the team at the fullback position so the Riders obviously have plans for the “Rat Dog” this year.

To me, he’s more of a backup running back than a fullback but we will see how they deploy him in the game.

Do you think that the Riders will bring receiver Brayden Lenius back when he is healthy? From Marlene

Head coach Corey Mace said they will keep tabs on Lenius to see when he gets back up to full strength, so the door certainly hasn’t been closed on bringing him back.

However, I think the Riders could be just fine moving forward with the Canadian receivers they have.

While some would argue to keep a player like Lenius around during his recovery, it made sense to cut him so the team wouldn’t be on the hook for his salary when he would have been placed on the six-game injured list. That money can now be spent elsewhere.

Lenius is just 27 and while his injuries have been unfortunate, he needs to find a way to stay on the field and be healthy, as he’s shown he can be quite productive when he is.