Former U of S Huskie Nelson Lokombo ready to roll for Riders after achilles injury

SASKATOON - - It was immediately apparent to Nelson Lokombo that something serious had happened to his achilles tendon during the Saskatchewan Roughriders shortened training camp of 2021.

“I knew right away. I heard it,” he said.

“When you accidentally kick someone in the back of the cleat, that’s what it sounded like. It was loud.”

The former University of Saskatchewan Huskies standout says his leg was in a cast, and even walking was difficult for three to four months following surgery to repair his torn achilles.

“That first month was probably the toughest month of my life,” he said. “Every time it felt like mentally I could do more, but body-wise I couldn’t.”

“It was getting over the hurdle of feeling like I could walk but I couldn’t walk yet, and then being able to walk and feeling I could run, but I can’t run yet, and then running and feeling (like) I could sprint. That’s kind of how it went."

Lokombo went through months of rehabilitation; stretching, calf raises, massage and laser work, shock therapy, and pool work to get to the point where he could play again.

“It was a relief,” Lokombo said of getting back to regular workouts.

“I was just worried that I wouldn’t be able to run as fast as I could, or be as explosive as I once was.”

Head coach Craig Dickenson says he’s looking to see growth out of Lokombo, and the team is taking things slowly getting him back up to full speed.

“We don't want to another injury because he's a key guy for us,” said Dickenson.

“He's done everything we've asked in camp, and I think he's going to have a good year.”

Despite Lokombo easing back into things, first year defensive backs coach Marcus Klund says he can already see the raw athleticism that made him the second overall pick in the 2021 CFL draft.

“That he looks the way he does at about 90, 95 per cent, man I'm excited see what he is at 100 per cent,” said Klund.

Dickenson says when a healthy Lokombo will be on the field for the Riders in 2022, either on special teams or on defence, while Klund says he could see him lining up at any position in the secondary.

“When you got a high draft pick like him, the expectation is to come in and be a guy. That's what we bring him in here to do and he's drafted to do that, so there's a lot of expectations for him to come in and be the guy," he said.