Ten years after making his CFL debut, Saskatchewan Roughriders kicker Brett Lauther has been enjoying what he calls the best training camp of his career so far.
“I had my ups and downs a little bit last year,” said Lauther. “I stayed out in the winter, really put a lot of work in with a lot of guys in the off-season especially some of the receivers. I feel really healthy, really good.”
Expectations are high entering the 2023 season for Lauther and the Roughriders special teams unit, aiming to build on their numbers from the year prior.
For the Nova Scotian, it’s improving upon his 82 field goal conversion rate, which was the eighth-best among kickers in the CFL last season.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself and had to kind of ease off the last few years just because of how much this means to me,” said Lauther. “How much work I put in for those few years of not getting to play or even get paid being out of the league, that’s why I work so hard. There’s always younger kids, someone to come up and through. But, no one is ever going to work harder than me in the off-seasons.”
The battle at punter meanwhile is down to a pair of global imports, coming from opposite sides of the world.
Kaare Vedvik has spent the last two seasons trying to pin opponents for the Roughriders, punting just under 5,000 total yards over 22 career games with the green and white.
He’s been joined in training camp by recent CFL Global Draft pick Adam Korsak, who is coming off winning the Ray Guy Award as the NCAA’s top kicker with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and set the NCAA’s all-time mark for punting yards.
“We just had a conversation about the journey,” said Vedvik. “He’s from Australia, I’m from Norway. So, there’s a lot of similarities in our journeys.”
Joining the Roughriders midway through camp, Korsak has been adjusting to the Canadian style of punting after years of collegiate football and time spent in his native Australia before that.
“It’s been a thing where it’s not just the last week I’ve been trying to ,” said Korsak. “It’s been six months of transitioning. So, I think the CFL has a place for Aussie punters. As you can see across the league, there’s so many Australian punters and they’ve had a lot of success. So, I’m excited to try to follow in their footsteps and do the best that I can.”
As with many positions around the field, the Roughriders will be getting several looks at their punting staff this weekend.
Head coach Craig Dickenson has confirmed that he will be rotating the duo in Saskatchewan’s first pre-season game of the year on Saturday, as the Roughriders play host to the B.C. Lions.
“We want to see guys hit the ball clean, have good operation time and put the ball where we want it,” said Dickenson. “It’s not necessarily who kicks it the furthest, it’s more about placement and giving our cover guys a chance. So, that’s how we’ll evaluate it.”
Saskatchewan talent will see the field at special teams on Saturday as well, with rookie kicker David Solie and longtime long snapper Jorgen Hus slotted into the lineup for their first snaps of the year.
All looking to elevate the Riders when games are on the line this season, looking to contribute to a potential playoff resurgence for the franchise.
“When you’re on a team like this and you get to come out every day and work on that craft, it builds consistency and it builds confidence in the group,” said Vedvik. “Right now we’re feeling great. The group is feeling solid, we’ve been good since Day 1 and I’m excited for what the season has to bring.”
Kickoff from Mosaic Stadium is set for 5:00 pm on Saturday between the Roughriders and Lions in pre-season action.
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