REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ playoff hopes might be slim, but head coach Ken Miller still expects his players to leave everything on the field.
The Roughriders (4-10) have already been eliminated from post-season contention in the CFL’s West Division. The only way they could qualify for the playoffs would be to finish ahead of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who are 7-7 in the East.
Despite the long odds, the Roughriders don’t plan on giving up.
“We’re going to play to win,” Miller said Wednesday. “We’re going to play every game to win.”
In order to earn the crossover playoff spot, the Riders would have to win all four of their remaining games, and the Tiger-Cats would have to lose all four of theirs.
“We still have a sliver of hope,” said quarterback Darian Durant, who is expected to start against the visiting B.C. Lions on Sunday.
Durant has been nursing an injured left foot, but Miller said it has healed enough that he could play without risking further damage. Miller said he expects Durant will be back “his usual mobile self.”
The Riders are reeling from three straight losses in which they have scored a total of nine points. They have not beaten any of their West Division rivals this season.
In last week’s 17-1 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos, Durant played the second half after backup Ryan Dinwiddie struggled miserably in his first start of the season.
“I knew where (the defenders) were. I knew where to throw the ball,” said Dinwiddie, still at a loss to explain the three interceptions he threw in two quarters.
Dinwiddie said he is preparing no differently this week than he would any other. He said he will be ready regardless of his role.
In order to awaken their dormant offence, the Riders must make bigger gains on first down, Dinwiddie said.
Commenting on Dinwiddie’s performance against the Eskimos, Durant said: “I know it was a difficult situation for him. But that’s what we get paid for as pros, to be ready when our number is called.”
The Lions (8-6) own a share of first place in the West. riding the crest of a seven-game winning streak. They have beaten Saskatchewan in both meetings this season, 24-11 in Vancouver and 42-5 in Regina.
“The thing they do as well as anybody in the league is, they make you earn everything you get,” said Roughriders offensive line coach Steve Buratto. “They don’t give you anything.”
Like Miller, Durant is determined to make the most of what’s left of this season, playoffs or not.
“You can never get a season back,” Durant said. “I don’t want to have any regrets. I want to get in there and do what I can. If I feel like I can help, I’ll be out there.”