REGINA — Corey Chamblin had his starter back Thursday.
Darian Durant returned under centre with the Saskatchewan Roughriders after suffering a foot injury in last week’s 39-28 road win over the Toronto Argonauts. Durant had a walking boot on his foot earlier in the week and didn’t practise before Thursday.
Durant, 30, took the majority of snaps with the starting offence and performed well, Chamblin said. However, the Riders head coach is taking a wait-and-see approach regarding whether Durant will face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.
"Darian looked pretty good … you could tell he had a day off as far as his throwing but other than that he looked good," Chamblin said. "He says he feels like he’s in that 85-90 per cent range and can tape it up and do some things and be ready to go.
"But if he feels like he’s limping and can’t do what the gameplan says then he probably won’t go. We want to make sure how healthy he is, if he felt any pain, does he feel like he’s mobile enough and do we feel like he’s mobile enough?"
Backup Drew Willy also practised with the starters Thursday after seeing plenty of time with the No. 1 unit earlier this week with Durant out.
"That was the good thing about it," Chamblin said. "When Darian didn’t practise Day 1 it allowed Drew to get his reps in and that was pretty good for him."
Durant has had a solid start to the season for the unbeaten Riders (3-0). He has completed 54-of-75 passes (72 per cent) for 674 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions and has a league-best efficiency rating of 135.1.
Sophomore Willy has made one career CFL start, that being a 28-17 loss to Montreal last September. The former University of Buffalo star was 22-of-34 passing for 225 yards and a TD with two interceptions.
Whoever starts against Hamilton will have the benefit of another reliable receiver in the lineup. Chamblin said veteran slotback Geroy Simon, a key off-season acquisition from B.C., will make his long-awaited Saskatchewan debut after missing the club’s first three games with a leg injury.
"Superman will fly," Chamblin said of Simon, who traditionally strikes a Superman pose after each TD he scores. "What people don’t understand is with Geroy you don’t even notice him and not in a bad way.
"It’s like he’s been here forever, he’s woven himself in and just brings confidence to the guys and confidence to the quarterback knowing he has another set of sure hands. For the younger guys, it’s being around a legend because he’s going to be a Hall of Famer one day and he helps them take their game to a new level."
Simon, 37, is a two-time Grey Cup champion and six-time league all-star over his 14-year CFL career. He’s the all-time leader in receiving yards (15,787) and needs 29 catches to break Ben Cahoon’s league record of 1,017.
Simon joins a Saskatchewan offence that’s on a nice roll. The Riders lead the CFL in scoring (38 points per game) and rushing (173 yards) and are second in total yards (398.7).
Running back Kory Sheets has a league-best 442 rushing yards, the highest three-game total to start a season in CFL history. Sheets ran for a career-high 178 yards against Toronto and will be key performer against a Hamilton defence allowing 147.3 yards per game rushing and 8.8 yards per run attempt.
Hamilton’s defence is also allowing 29.7 points per game as well.
Sunday’s contest will also mark the return Kent Austin to Saskatchewan. Austin guided the Riders to a Grey Cup win in ’89 as the starter before taking the club to another CFL title in ’07 in his first season as a head coach.
Two months later, Austin left Saskatchewan to become the offensive co-ordinator at his alma mater, Ole Miss, before being named Cornell’s head coach Jan. 26, 2010.
Austin returned to the CFL on Dec. 17, 2012 when Hamilton hired him to be its head coach, GM and director of football operations.