While Darian Durant may no longer be a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, there doesn’t appear to be any less respect for the team’s former quarterback.
Durant will start for the Montreal Alouettes in Regina Friday night. It’s his first game at Mosaic Stadium since his trade and bitter split with the team and Riders vice president of football operations, general manager and head coach Chris Jones.
Durant told reporters in Montreal there are no hard feelings, something echoed by Jones on Wednesday.
“He was a very good player for a long time for this organization and he did a lot of good things,” Jones said.
Durant’s season in Montreal has not gone according to plan, however.
After an emotional post-game celebration in week one when the Alouettes beat the Roughriders 17-16, Montreal has only won twice since and is in the league’s basement.
There are questions about Durant’s future with the Alouettes after signing a three-year deal in January.
This is all leading to Saskatchewan being heavy favourites Friday, but Durant’s former teammate and friend, Rob Bagg, says people shouldn’t underestimate the former Rider.
“I know the man that he is and the player that he is deep down, so I think we just need to be prepared and respectful of his ability and his history,” Bagg said.
“If we prepare the way we should, our defence will be fine.”
Bagg said Durant would probably rank this season as one of his “worst and most trying years.”
Still, the Rider expects fans to greet Durant like they have other past stars of the team who have returned recently, including Weston Dressler and John Chick.
But outside of what he expects, Bagg also thinks an ovation for Durant would be appropriate after helping lead the team to a Grey Cup Championship and other franchise highs.
Durant’s legacy in Saskatchewan may also live on through quarterback Brandon Bridge, who spent a lot of time with the veteran last season as one of his backups learning the game and team’s system.
“He knows how to win and he knows how to treat his guys with respect and to lead his guys,” Bridge said.
“I’m just following in his footsteps of leading this team and he’s been here for so long so you have to show a lot of respect for that.”
It’s not clear how long Durant will play on Friday, but his current general manager and head coach Kavis Reed said it was the right thing to start him in return, even though the team wants to evaluate other quarterbacks in their final two games.
Durant will speak to reporters in Regina on Thursday when the Alouettes arrive ahead of Friday’s game.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. on Friday, with Green Zone Game Day coverage starting at 3 p.m.
Head coach Chris Jones has decided to rest a few players this week to make sure they are healthy for the playoffs.
Running back Cameron Marshall, receiver Naaman Roosevelt and linebacker Sam Eguavoen would all be healthy enough to play, but will not suit up.
Defensive back Kacy Rodgers will return to the roster after Duron Carter switched over from offence to defence last week to replace him. Carter isn’t expected to start, but will rotate in on both sides of the ball.
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