The Saskatchewan Roughriders have added a veteran presence in the defensive backfield with the signing of Jovon Johnson.
The 2011 CFL defensive player of the year with Winnipeg got his start in Saskatchewan but left after one acrimonious season. The defensive back played in only two games and wasn’t dressed for the 2007 Grey Cup win over Winnipeg, prompting Johnson to sell his championship ring. The 33-year-old says he regrets that decision and would like to get it back.
Johnson became available after his weekend release from the Montreal Alouettes.
Coach and GM Chris Jones said signing a ten-year veteran like Johnson makes sense considering injuries have hurt their defensive backfield.
“Jovan’s got a lot of experience in the league, a great player in the league for a while and not only that, he’s gone (played) against some of these guys for a couple of years so it’s a good opportunity for him to get back on the field and a good opportunity for us to have a veteran DB out there.”
Cameron Judge also joined the Riders for his first practice Monday taking part in the new Mosaic Stadium walk-through. Jones said the second overall draft choice made a good first impression.
“He’s a good-looking kid, he’s extremely intelligent, he’s already caught on to our defensive schemes and our calls special teams wise, so I’m looking forward to what he brings to our football team.”
The Canadian linebacker chose to complete his Political Science degree at U-C-L-A before reporting to the Riders. He said missing training camp was a setback, but one he can overcome.
“I mean there is no arguing it will put you behind but I think I can still control how well I perform by just putting in the time that’s needed to catch up and get up to speed, so I’m willing to do that,” said Judge who added his new teammates are helping him make the transition to pro football.
“I was a little nervous at first, the guys on this team are very accepting, everyone introduced themselves, I already feel like I’ve been here a couple of weeks, how well I know some of the guys, it’s been a great part of coming up here.”
Judge admitted he had no idea he was putting on former quarterback Darian Durant’s old jersey when he chose number-4 and wore it during his first practice, adding he needed to brush up on Rider history.
Judge felt he would be ready to play in Thursday’s regular-season opener against Durant and the Alouettes in Montreal and Jones said Judge’s playing status would depend on their final workout prior to the game.
Jones indicated Johnson would play if he appeared ready.