REGINA — When he’s on the field, John Chick can’t actually see fear in the eyes of his opponents. But the Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive end knows it’s there.
“One of my things is I believe I put fear into guys and I come 100 per cent of the time, every play,” Chick says.
The Riders will be counting on Chick instilling that fear in the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday when the two teams meet at Mosaic Stadium in the CFL West Division final.
“I think guys like taking plays off and I’m not one of them,” Chick said Tuesday at practice. “I’m there to do my job every play and they’ve got to worry about that.
“They can’t take the play off, regardless they know they’re going to get a face full of 97,” Chick added, referring to the number stitched to his green and white jersey.
There’s no doubt the six-foot-three, 250-pound Chick has been in the faces of his opponents this season, his third with the Riders.
In 16 games, Chick recorded 32 tackles, 11 sacks, four tackles for a loss and recovered two fumbles.
His stellar numbers earned him West Division all-star honours and a CFL Outstanding Defensive Player nomination.
The last Roughrider to win that award was Jearld Baylis in 1993.
Chick, 26, also played a big part in the 30-14 win over the Calgary Stampeders that helped Saskatchewan clinch their first West Division regular-season title since 1976. He sacked Calgary quarterback Henry Burris for a 13-yard loss.
That win earned Saskatchewan a bye to the West final. It’s the first time Calgary, the defending Grey Cup champs, and Saskatchewan, the 2007 champions, have met in the CFL West final since 1971.
Chick says one big concern for the Riders will be stopping Calgary running back Joffrey Reynolds.
Reynolds is the West Division nominee for the league’s outstanding player and the CFL’s rushing leader for the second straight year. He finished with 1,496 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns and 431 receiving yards.
“When it comes to running the ball, there’s none better in the game, that’s for sure,” Chick said of Reynolds. “He hits the hole hard and he’s coming fast and he’s a big guy. The toughest part of it is the threat between him and Burris both, they have a couple plays where they’re both a threat. We’ll just have to be good with our reads and confident.”
Riders coach Ken Miller has faith in Chick.
“That’ll be an interesting clash and certainly I’m going to predict that John Chick does very well in that clash,” Miller laughed after practice Tuesday. Miller said another “consistent, tremendous” performance from Chick will be vital on Sunday.
Chick, who is diabetic, missed practice last Thursday because he was sick. His throat was still a little hoarse Tuesday be he said his energy level had returned.
He’s excited about getting onto the field and modest about getting any accolades.
“It’s not just a one-person game,” he said. “You play and do your job, you know and believe that the other 11 guys are doing their job. That’s what makes a great defence.
“We have a whole defence here that we believe is the best in the league and set a goal from the beginning of the year. Our goal is to stop these guys and get to the Grey Cup.”