Saskatchewan Roughriders rest defensive end Charleston Hughes against Montreal Alouettes

The CFL’s sack leader, with 13, was kept out of Saturday’s 27-25 win over the visiting Montreal Alouettes with an eye toward keeping him fresh for the stretch run.

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The bye week started early for Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive end Charleston Hughes.

The CFL’s sack leader, with 13, was kept out of Saturday’s 27-25 win over the visiting Montreal Alouettes with an eye toward keeping him fresh for the stretch run.

“That was a close one and he could have played,” Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said.

“His elbow is bothering him and he also has a knee that has been giving him trouble. It’s nothing that’s too worrisome.

“There is just enough stiffness and soreness that we felt with Lavar (Edwards) and Earl Okine being healthier and ready to go that we would play the fresher and healthier guys. Then we would try to give Charleston this week off and then the bye week off.”

Hughes, 35, didn’t practise Wednesday due to lingering soreness from the Riders’ 35-10 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sept. 7.

However, he was listed on the Riders’ original depth chart, which was circulated Friday morning. That afternoon, the Riders issued a revised depth chart that had Hughes on the one-game injured list.

“We thought the soreness would go away and it just didn’t,” Dickenson said.

Hughes had 13 sacks after the 11-game mark with the 2018 Riders. He had only two sacks through the remainder of the season, but still led the CFL with 15 sacks. Sitting Hughes might be a way of avoiding that dropoff this season.

“We want to be fresh near the end,” Dickenson said. “If a guy’s not 100 per cent and we have good depth, we’re going to play the good depth.”

Saskatchewan’s depth paid off with Chad Geter, a backup defensive end, recording three defensive tackles and a sack.

Defensive tackle Micah Johnson stepped up his game with three defensive tackles, a sack, a pass knockdown and a tackle for a loss.

mmccormick@postmedia.com

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