New Sask. Roughriders receivers ready to renew chemistry with QB Trevor Harris

Derel Walker will make his regular season debut for the Saskatchewan Roughriders against his former team on Sunday in Edmonton. (Adam Hunter/CBC - image credit)
Derel Walker will make his regular season debut for the Saskatchewan Roughriders against his former team on Sunday in Edmonton. (Adam Hunter/CBC - image credit)

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Trevor Harris will see two familiar faces in the huddle in Sunday's season opener in Edmonton — former teammates Derel Walker and Jake Wieneke.

The two CFL veteran pass catchers have been reunited with Harris in Regina after playing with him in the past — Walker in Edmonton and Wieneke in Montreal.

"Those guys are absolute studs. We're going to lean on them every week. They know that. But you know the other guys are going to have their shine too," Harris said after practice on Wednesday.

And he doesn't anticipate having any issues with creating chemistry with his new receivers.

"I thought about that at the beginning of camp, but I think that camp, I thought we gelled really well," Harris said. "It's always learning, but it doesn't feel like we're breaking in new guys."

Wieneke and Walker join a receivers group that could see five new starters Sunday night. Slotback Brayden Lenius' injury status is unknown and Kian Schaffer-Baker is injured.

Harris said he will lean on the former CFL all-stars.

"Derel looks like the Derel that everybody remembers early in his career and I just can't wait to see him unleash this season," he said.

"Jake is one of the smartest receivers, one of the best route runners I've ever been around. He's just so friendly to throw to and always sees the game.

"Those guys are going to lead by example the entire year, and the other guys will follow. I know they're going to make a lot of plays on game days, too."

Adam Hunter/CBC
Adam Hunter/CBC

Walker, 31, is a three-time CFL all-star and was the league's most outstanding rookie in 2015.

After a 1,000-yard season in 2019 with the Toronto Argonauts, Walker has had one touchdown in the last two seasons with the Edmonton Elks.

Walker said he is excited to get to face the Elks in the opener Sunday night.

"But to have a former team I played for the first week, man it means a lot, especially considering how things went over there last year."

When asked about his rapport with Harris, Walker kept mentioning "chemistry."

They played together in Edmonton in 2021.

And the pair had a clear-eyed view in Harris' lone preseason series in Winnipeg, Harris went 4-for-4, culminating in a touchdown pass to Walker. Two plays earlier, the two connected on a 37-yard play.

"We already had developed that trust because we played with each other. So we're very familiar with how we view the game," Walker said.

Adam Hunter/CBC
Adam Hunter/CBC

Walker and Wieneke got a chance to break down the new offence together as the pair were roommates during training camp in Saskatoon.

Wieneke is expecting big things from Walker.

"He's had an amazing career and being able to see him out here, he's still getting better," Wieneke said.

"It's funny, we can look at maybe last year or the year before as far as just the production, but sometimes stats lie. It's fun to see the work that he puts in every single day and I'm learning from him watching him run routes."

Wieneke, 28, is looking to bounce back as well. After scoring 19 touchdowns in his first two years in the league, Wieneke had two majors in 2022.

"That's the cool thing about football. Every day is a new day and we get the opportunity to come out here and compete and get better and we're just excited for that."

Wieneke played with Harris in Montreal in 2021 and 2022 and followed him to Saskatchewan.

"Playing the game with Trevor, it's just a blessing. Love playing with him. Such an amazing quarterback, obviously, but also just a great leader, Great man. Makes me a better man, just being around and spending time with him on and off the field. So grateful for that."