Veteran slotback Weston Dressler returns to Saskatchewan Roughriders
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014 04:30 pm
REGINA - The Saskatchewan Roughriders had one thing to offer Weston Dressler that no other CFL team could match.
Dressler re-signed with the only CFL club he has played for Thursday after passing his physical. He was back in his usual No. 7 jersey for practice after quarterback Seth Doege made the change to No. 9.
"I'll tell you right now, I couldn't be more excited to be where I'm at, right now today. That's what I'm focused on now is here, help this team win some football games and with the ultimate goal of winning the Grey Cup," Dressler said in Regina.
Dressler was released by the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday and cleared NFL waivers the following day, making him an unrestricted CFL free agent.
The Ottawa Redblacks also made a formal contract offer to Dressler and the Calgary Stampeders were reportedly in the mix for his services. Dressler thanked the other teams for their interest in him.
But in the end, he said there was "too much history" to walk away from Saskatchewan.
"I can't really put it down to one thing other than I didn't want to play against (defensive end) John Chick," joked Dressler.
"No, I mean there's just a lot here. There's a lot I've gone through with this organization, with a lot of guys on this team, coaches and players, front office ... the fans. Everything here, it really does mean a lot to me."
The Riders released the 29-year-old Dressler in January — roughly two weeks before he was scheduled to become a CFL free agent — so he could explore his options south of the border. Shortly after working out for the Chiefs, Dressler signed with the NFL club and donned No. 13 in honour of Saskatchewan's rabid football fans, affectionately dubbed the 13th Man.
Dressler appeared in three exhibition games with Kansas City, recording a 19-yard kickoff return.
The five-foot-eight, 179-pound native of Bismarck, N.D., had spent his entire six-year CFL career with Saskatchewan, registering 442 catches for 6,531 yards and 43 TDs. He surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving plateau five times, including the last four years.
Dressler had five catches for a game-high 81 yards and a TD in Saskatchewan's 45-23 Grey Cup victory over Hamilton last November. He was a two-time all-star and the CFL's top rookie in 2008.
Roughriders general manager Brendan Taman said he spoke with Dressler a few times before the slotback re-signed with Saskatchewan.
"He really wanted to be here obviously, so it made my job a little bit easier that's for sure. You know, there were some nervous times for a while, but he's a pretty loyal individual that's for sure," said Taman.
Fans and businesses in Saskatchewan also tried to lure Dressler back with offers of free sandwiches, cupcakes and car washes. A Twitter effort was launched called #BringWestonHome.
"Really, I'm always amazed with the support from this fan base, so to see something like that, it did surprise me. But at the same time, it doesn't surprise me because they show support in numerous ways and that was just one of their ways of doing it for me at the time," he said.
Dressler joked that he "probably won't be the healthiest man" if he takes advantage of all the offers, but said he would share with his teammates.
Riders quarterback Darian Durant had spoken to Dressler after the slotback was released by the Chiefs. Durant said it was great to have Dressler back on the field Thursday.
"He has that chemistry with me that goes back years and years and I think we're on the same page with everything. We see everything the same way, so I think he's going to bring that big play ability back to the system and it's going good to have him back," said Durant.
"I'm just happy to have him back and hopefully we can finish our careers together," added the pivot.