THE Saskatchewan Roughriders have won 11 of their last 13 games against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. And they just got even better, thanks to Thursday's signing of former CFL all-star receiver -- and recent NFL castoff -- Weston Dressler.
So what changes did the Bombers make in their preparations after the Riders announced they had re-signed Dressler and said he is expected to play Sunday when Saskatchewan hosts the Bombers in Regina?
"Not one," Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea replied following his club's practice at Investors Group Field. "We do what we do. I don't know how that changes anything."
To suggest the addition of one of the most potent offensive threats in the CFL the past couple seasons to the Riders roster this weekend doesn't change anything is understating things just a tad.
Just ask one of the men who will be expected to cover Dressler if he plays on Sunday.
"He's one of the best. He's a very explosive player, a dynamic player, a big-time player," said Bombers cornerback Chris Randle. "He makes a difference. If he suits up, we have to know where he is at all times. And to go along with that, they have a full team and have won five straight. So I don't know if they're going to change their whole game plan for one player, but whatever they're doing they're going to keep doing because they've been doing great.
"And we have to try to find a way to stop it."
That task almost certainly just got harder. While Dressler has spent the past couple of months in the Kansas City Chiefs organization trying to land an NFL gig, even O'Shea admits Dressler's transition back to the CFL will in all likelihood be quick and seamless after spending the past six seasons in Regina.
"I think he can probably step right in and play and I imagine that's their plan," said O'Shea. "He obviously knows the offence. He'll probably step right in without missing a beat."
Dressler was back in his usual No. 7 jersey for practice Thursday after quarterback Seth Doege made the change to No. 9.
"I'll tell you right now, I couldn't be more excited to be where I'm at, right now today. That's what I'm focused on now is here, help this team win some football games and with the ultimate goal of winning the Grey Cup," Dressler said in Regina.
Dressler was released by the Chiefs on Monday and cleared NFL waivers the following day, making him an unrestricted CFL free agent.
The Ottawa Redblacks also made a formal contract offer to Dressler and the Calgary Stampeders were reportedly in the mix for his services. Dressler thanked the other teams for their interest in him.
In the end, he said there was "too much history" to walk away from Saskatchewan.
"I can't really put it down to one thing other than I didn't want to play against (Riders defensive end) John Chick," joked Dressler.
"No, I mean there's just a lot here. There's a lot I've gone through with this organization, with a lot of guys on this team, coaches and players, front office... the fans. Everything here, it really does mean a lot to me."
The 5-8, 179-pound native of Bismarck, N.D., spent his entire six-year CFL career with Saskatchewan, registering 442 catches for 6,531 yards and 43 TDs. He surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving plateau five times, including the last four years.
Dressler had five catches for a game-high 81 yards and a TD in Saskatchewan's 45-23 Grey Cup victory over Hamilton last November. He was a two-time all-star and the CFL's top rookie in 2008.
Riders quarterback Darian Durant spoke to Dressler after the slotback was released by the Chiefs. Durant said it was great to have Dressler back on the field Thursday.
"He has that chemistry with me that goes back years and years and I think we're on the same page with everything. We see everything the same way, so I think he's going to bring that big-play ability back to the system and it's going good to have him back," said Durant.
"I'm just happy to have him back and hopefully we can finish our careers together," added the pivot.
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-- with files from The Canadian Press