Four Riders suffer suspected season-ending Achilles injuries ahead of training camp

Four member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders were sidelined with long-term injuries during a workout session in Regina on Thursday.

Defensive players Nelson Lokombo, Freddie Bishop and Larry Dean, and running back Jonathan Femi-Cole, all suffered Achilles injuries during the third and final day of workouts ahead of training camp, which is scheduled to begin on Saturday.

“We feel terrible about this,” said Riders’ general manager Jeremy O’Day. “Our players work very hard to get back to playing football. They've been very excited to be back in a stadium. Our heart goes out to those players that that were injured.”

O’Day said he believes all four injuries are season-ending, but the players are still being evaluated by medical staff.

The players were hurt in short time span during the workout, which resulted in trainers dealing with the injuries at the same time, according to O’Day. He said players were participating in drills he described as “nothing out of the ordinary” when the injuries happened.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, coaches and personal staff weren’t permitted at the unofficial practice. O’Day said the purpose of the workouts was to prepare players for football and called it an opportunity “to ramp them up until they’re practicing like normal.”

“To see this many of those injuries happen in such a short period of time is concerning,” he said.

The CFL season was cancelled in 2020 and players haven’t played in meaningful games since November 2019. The GM said time off could be a factor.

“In all my years of playing football, I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said O’Day, who played 13 seasons in the CFL before joining the Riders’ front office as assistant GM in 2011.

Defensive back Lokombo was picked second overall by the Riders in the 2021 CFL draft. Dean, a linebacker, and Bishop, a defensive lineman, were both expected to takeover starting jobs on the Riders defensive unit.