It didn’t take much time for Brett Swain to feel comfortable in a Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey — about 15 minutes, in fact.
The rookie slotback hauled in two touchdowns Saturday to help lead the defending Grey Cup champs to a 21-17 victory over the Ottawa RedBlacks in a CFL pre-season contest at Mosaic Stadium.
“I just had no idea what I was about to get myself into,” Swain said. “The possessions and being on and off the field and not being able to make adjustments and doing everything on the run a I think I got used to all of that by the second quarter.”
That’s when veteran quarterback Darian Durant entered the game. Durant orchestrated a 91-yard scoring drive with his first possession, one that was capped with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Swain to give the Riders a 14-10 lead.
Swain’s second touchdown of the game came on the Riders’ second offensive possession of the second half. Rookie quarterback Adam Weber found Swain for a four-yard touchdown strike, one that swelled Saskatchewan’s lead to 21-10.
“I think (Swain) looked great,” Durant said. “He has had a great camp and he has done a good job of learning the system and getting on the same page with the quarterbacks. I think he’s going to have a role with us and I look forward to working more with him moving forward.”
With the departure of all-star slotback Weston Dressler to the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and the retirement of the CFL’s all-time leading receiver Geroy Simon, the Roughriders have a couple of holes to fill within their receiving corps. Swain’s debut with the Green and White should earn him more playing time in Saskatchewan’s second exhibition contest on Friday against the visiting Edmonton Eskimos.
“I had a couple balls come my way and I made the most of them,” said the six-foot, 200-pound Swain. “It was a slow start for me a still getting acclimated to the game, but I feel a lot more comfortable and I gained a lot of confidence today. I’m excited to come in here and watch the game film and learn where I can improve.”
The Redblacks, on the other hand, have more than just a couple of roster vacancies.
“You can see that (the Roughriders) are definitely in a rhythm and they’re communicating well and are all on the same page,” said Ottawa quarterback Henry Burris, who was 5-for-6 passing for 40 yards in limited time. “That’s where we’re trying to get to. We have a lot of guys competing for jobs.
“Other teams are just trying to plug a few holes. We’re trying to put the whole kit and caboodle together here. We have a good idea of what we have, but we need to all be singing from the same sheet of music.”
Chevon Walker scored the Redblacks’ first touchdown, a one-yard plunge, which was set up thanks to Jamill Smith’s 77-yard punt return to Saskatchewan’s two-yard line. Justin Palardy then booted a 44-yard field goal and the expansion RedBlacks owned a 10-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Thomas Demarco played under centre for much of the second half for Ottawa and completed 4-of-7 pass attempts for 97 yards. His lone touchdown strike came on a 60-yard pass-and-run with receiver Travon Patterson in the third quarter.
The RedBlackswill visit the Montreal Alouettes on Friday, their second and final exhibition game.