Roughriders' special teams on the upswing

By Arielle Zerr/CJME News Staff
September 9, 2016 - 11:16am

While the ending to last week’s game wasn’t what any players were hoping for, they all agreed Kendial Lawrence was spectacular.

The coaches had been stressing through the season it was only a matter of time before Lawrence would break through for a return touchdown. It happened when the team needed it the most and left the Riders tied with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“It was a good stride for the team, just to know we put it together and everybody did their job, and it showed on that play because we got a touchdown off it,” Lawrence said.

Of course it was also heartbreaking because of the loss, but Lawrence insists that the important part is that special teams now know it’s possible.

“You kind of have to push forward and know that as a team you can do it and then go out there and try to do it again the next week.”

“The guys in front of (Lawrence) have been working hard all year,” said special teams coordinator Craig Dickenson, crediting a well implemented pressure call for the break through.

“(Our special teams) stayed in the backfield a split second longer and the punt was deep … so Kendial caught that with probably 10 to 15 yard of room and that’s the recipe for big returns.”

Jeff Hecht joined the team just three weeks ago and he says since then he’s seen a lot of improvement.

“I think the last three games, specifically, our special teams has really been the best performing unit on our team I think, and (the return) was good for this cherry on top, so to speak, for everyone to be kind of rewarded as a whole for their efforts.”

As for those who are worried about Tyler Crapigna and the kicking game, Dickenson said Crapigna, punter Josh Bartel and the team’s new long snapper Dan McDonald have been working hard all week to improve on Sunday’s issues.

“We had a lot of new parts … and we were all a little bit concerned about what was going to happen in terms of the operations (with a new snapper),” Dickenson said. “We really focused on mentally stronger this week and being a little more flexible and roll with the punches because injuries happen and you got to be able to adjust.”

Dickenson said McDonald went into the game without having any time to practice with Crapigna and Bartel – who besides being the team’s punter also holds for Crapigna. Dickenson said a new snapper is a big adjustment for both them.

“The field goal and the punting operations it’s all timing and rhythm, so it just affects the rhythm. It doesn’t necessarily mean the guy snaps any worse than the other guy or better but the rhythm is different … it was tough sledding in that game,” Dickenson explained before emphasizing all was not lost.

“We’ve had a good (few) days so far. I think we’ll rebound quite nicely this week.”

 

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On Twitter: @arielle_zerr

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