Blocking number 1 as Riders evaluate running backs

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June 10, 2017 - 10:09am
Anthony Allen celebrates a touchdown after his first tenure with the Riders. The tailback is back with the team in 2017, now wearing #35.
File Photo/980 CJME
Anthony Allen celebrates a touchdown after his first tenure with the Riders. The tailback is back with the team in 2017, now wearing #35.

There has been a lot of talk about quarterbacks in Riderville this week, but for the first time, the running backs will be on full display.

After the shooting death of Joe McKnight last year, the running back spot is still a question mark for the Riders, but the preseason game should help bring some clarity.

Tailbacks are among the most difficult positions to judge in training camp as teams generally don’t go full speed or full tackle, so Riders head coach Chris Jones is ready to see not only how the rushers stack up, but how the defense does against Winnipeg run game.

“We’ve got to do a great job of making sure that we tackle because they’ll run through arm tackles if we just stick an arm out there,” Jones said. “I look forward to seeing which one of our guys protects, number one and number two and which one of (them) we can hand the football.”

Cameron Marshall is slated to start at tailback, but expect to get a look at four other tailbacks that include Anthony Allen, Greg Morris, Quincy Walden and Jonathan Thebaud. The Riders also have Kienan LaFrance on the roster, however, an undisclosed injury will keep him from dressing in Saturday’s game.

Jones said that he’s not looking forward to seeing any one of his running backs more than the others, but he does know what he’s looking for.

“Blocking is our number one priority. In the CFL you’ve got to be able to throw the football vertically down the field. In order to do that you must protect (the quarterback). So I’m looking forward to seeing who can diagnose everything that (the opponent is) bringing and who is willing to fit up physically and block,” Jones said.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Mosaic Stadium.