Thigpen helps Riders run over Redblacks

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OTTAWA — A friendship between quarterback Kevin Glenn and running back Marcus Thigpen has paid off handsomely for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Thigpen had been out of football for nearly two years when he discovered a video on Instagram of Glenn, a former Hamilton Tiger-Cats teammate, surpassing 50,000 career passing yards.

The post inspired Thigpen to contact Glenn about the possibility of a comeback with the Riders, with whom Thigpen began his CFL career in 2009.

Glenn then talked with Chris Jones, the Riders’ head coach and general manager, about Thigpen’s interest. After determining that Thigpen was in shape, the Riders signed him on Sept. 12.

On Sunday, Thigpen came though for the Riders with 15 carries for 169 yards — including a 75-yard romp for a touchdown — in a 31-20 win over the Ottawa Redblacks in the East Division semi-final.

Thigpen was appreciative of the opportunity presented to him.

“It feels great,’’ Thigpen said. “It was a very emotional day just being back out there because I was at home missing the game. I wrote to Kevin on Instagram and told him I wanted to play again and I give a huge thank you to him.’’

Thigpen and Glenn were together in 2010 and 2011 with the Tiger-Cats. Thigpen then embarked on a nomadic journey through the NFL, primarily as a returner.

He retired at age 29 after being released by the Buffalo Bills in December of 2015.

“I feel like I stopped playing too early and that I had lot left in the tank,’’ said Thigpen, 31. “I was still running track with my high school coach and running in the masters division for 30 and up.

“I still feel like I had the speed and I stayed in the weight room. I knew that I had the size and the strength for football. I missed it and I wanted to come back.’’

Three days after signing with the Riders, Thigpen was placed on the active roster — only to injure a shoulder while returning a punt. He ended up on the six-game injured list.

He recovered and was activated on Nov. 4 for the final regular-season game of the season against the Edmonton Eskimos. In that game, he had seven carries for 32 yards and scored two touchdowns — one rushing and another on a pass — in the Riders’ 28-13 loss.

With Cameron Marshall and Trent Richardson both nursing injuries, the Riders started Thigpen on Sunday.

“It was pretty easy to watch our film and know who is our most healthy back,’’ Jones said. “He did some really nice things.

“It’s a big honour for him and a big accomplishment. Basically all we did was base it off who was the healthiest.’’

Thigpen exhibited his breakaway speed during the third-quarter touchdown sprint. He burst through the line of scrimmage and pulled away from several would-be tacklers.

“The hole was right there and I didn’t see anything but daylight,’’ Thigpen said. “I still have a little bit of juice in these legs. I just ran as fast as I could to get the score.’’

Riders slotback Bakari Grant wasn’t surprised by Thigpen’s production. Grant and Thigpen were also teammates in 2011 with Hamilton.

“These guys finally got a chance to see what he can do,” Grant said. “We called him an ankle-buster with us in Hamilton and he’s doing the same thing out here. It’s amazing to watch him.’’

mmccormick@postmedia.com

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