LIVESTREAM CFL: Saskatchewan Roughriders @ Edmonton Elks, June 8, 22:00 CET (10 pm, 4 pm EDT)

EDMONTON — The first divisional game of the season pits the Edmonton Elks against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

The new slate couldn’t come soon enough for an Edmonton team hoping to break a playoff drought that dates back to 2019.

A healthy Trevor Harris and the addition of AJ Ouellette in the run game has Saskatchewan dreaming big as the season gets underway.

One of the biggest changes of the off-season came in the Elks quarterback room when Chris Jones went out and signed McLeod Bethel-Thompson who spent a season in the United States Football League.

» Depth Chart: SSK | EDM

The 2022 Grey Cup champion will be looked upon to steer an offence with plenty of new weapons.

Already familiar with Kurleigh Gittens Jr. who comes over from Toronto, Bethel-Thompson can also spread the ball around to star Eugene Lewis and Hergy Mayala.

Watch live. Saskatchewan Roughriders @ Edmonton Elks, June 8, 22:00 CET (10 pm, 4 pm EDT)

As a veteran presence steering the offence, Bethel-Thompson knows the importance of the finer details.

“We’re very excited for the challenge,” Bethel-Thompson told reporters ahead of the opener. “It’s just tightening up all the little stuff, no errors. We have to see all the gaps and do it day-by-day. Preseason doesn’t mean anything. Mistakes matter now. We have to eliminate those and can’t beat ourselves because we know we have a good defence and a good team coming in.”

The run game goes through Kevin Brown once again, and that should be just fine with Jones after he put up a career best 1,141 yards.

With new Roughriders head coach Corey Mace bringing a wealth of experience on the defensive side of the ball from his time with the Toronto Argonauts, which included that Grey Cup in 2022, Saskatchewan’s defence should be well prepared for whatever the Elks throw at them.

In the pass game, defensive backs Rolan Milligan Jr. and Jayden Dalke are key playmakers, as is C.J. Reavis.

Arguably their biggest addition on defence was Jameer Thurman at linebacker, who will be tasked with slowing Brown and finding his way to Bethel-Thompson. Thurman had a career high 97 tackles and five sacks in 2023.

When the offence gets on the field, Harris will try to settle in as quickly as possible as he missed all but five games last year.

Helping him along in the pass game is a group of experienced receives in Shawn Bane Jr.Samuel Emilus and Jerreth Sterns. Bane in particular is coming off a breakout year where he caught 93 passes for 1,104.

The Riders have been fortunate with a strong rusher in years past and it’s no different this time around as they’ve signed former Argo AJ Ouellette. With Ouellette’s ability to handle the bulk of the carries, the Riders should be able to rely on him to relieve pressure on Harris and the pass game early on.

RB AJ Ouellette will make his Riders regular season debut on Saturday (


With added talent, Mace knows his team is eager to hit the field and show what they can do when the wins and losses begin to count.

“I’m more excited for the guys to get out there and implement everything we put into place at this point,” Mace told reporters. “I know they’re all itching to get after it but it’s process driven. We attack everyday to see how we can come out victorious each day.”

It’ll be up to Ouellette’s former teammate, linebacker Sam Acheampong, along with linebacker Nyles Morgan to close time and space on the ground in the Elks front.

When the ball is put in the air, Jones turns to Darrius BrattonKai Gray and Marcus Lewis to make important plays. The trio combined for seven interceptions last season.

With a healthy Harris and strong additions on both sides of the ball, the Riders are on a mission to win their first Grey Cup since 2013.

For the Elks, Week 1 is the first step in establishing themselves as a threat in the West Division.

Watch live. Saskatchewan Roughriders @ Edmonton Elks, June 8, 22:00 CET (10 pm, 4 pm EDT)

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