Rider rookies marvel at atmosphere of 1st CFL game

By Arielle Zerr/CJME News Staff
June 19, 2018 - 8:25am

As a member of one of the premier college football programs in the United States, Eric Striker is used to hyping up fans.

Now as a Roughrider, he’s seeing more of the same.

The Oklahoma Sooner alum played in his first regular-season CFL game on Friday against the Argonauts and was impressed with what the Rider Nation brought.

“The atmosphere, the crowd was good,” Striker said. “To come out and win the home opener is a big thing.”

The fans were also one of receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert’s favourite parts of the game he saw “how much everybody’s passionate about the team and the energy that they bring” in his first outing with the team.

His other favourite part, of course, was getting the ball in his hands. Williams-Lambert had three catches for 23 yards in a game that saw nine different players collect catches.

“It’s amazing. It’s crazy how much hard work and stuff you put in just to be able to have the opportunity to have the ball in your hand come game day,” the 24-year-old said. “Once you get to hold it you cherish it, so it was a great opportunity.”

“He played real well,” head coach Chris Jones said, referring to Williams-Lambert. “He only played 11 plays and he caught (three) balls so number one he caught the football … he’s a guy that’s extremely intelligent and the thing I was most proud of was he played very good on special teams.”

Striker was equally excited to get back on the football field. The linebacker took some time away from football after being cut by the Buffalo Bills and became an athletic recruiter for his alma mater. He was close to the game, but not playing. That is until he joined the Riders.

“It’s fun, it’s exciting. (Football’s) still in me. I still enjoy it. I took years off and it’s probably the hungriest I’ve ever been to play.”

Striker had an incredible career with the Oklahoma Sooners. He made 118 solo tackles, 45 tackles for losses, 22.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and one interception and was a two-time Associated Press All-American.

The potential is clearly there. Jones compared his talents to those of defensive lineman Charleston Hughes.

“He’s a guy that can pass rush, he can drop (into coverage), he’s a very versatile player,” said Jones.

“He didn’t play quite as well as what he had played in the past, he was a little slower than usual but he’ll get used to it,” he added.

On Friday, Striker collected two defensive tackles and found some things he wants to work on.

“It was a big break in game for me, just feeling it out,” Striker said. “My attitude was great, I feel like my effort is great, but I definitely could get better in some ways. I’m always looking to get better.”

Striker said the speed and the transitions between teams took him a bit by surprise and the wider field took some adjusting but chasing after the ball “comes pretty easy.”

So he can’t wait to get back out for his next game.

“It felt good just being back out and doing what I enjoy to do.”

Riders rolling into Ottawa

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