O’Leary: Coaching staff, Collaros relationship an asset for Riders

They traded for a new starting quarterback in the winter, but Zach Collaros’ arrival to the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ mini-camp this week was far from a get-to-know-you session with his coaching staff.

Collaros has history with two of the key components of the Riders staff, in head coach Chris Jones and assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Steve McAdoo. They were all a part of the 2012 Grey Cup-winning Toronto Argonauts team.

» Jones: ‘Every position on our football team is a competition’
» Bio: Zach Collaros by the numbers

Collaros and offensive coordinator Steve McAdoo worked together in Toronto with the Argonauts (Riderville.com)

“I’ve known Zach, working with him in Toronto so the relationship was already there,” McAdoo said from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Wednesday, shortly after the mini-camp had concluded. While the Riders’ Florida excursions are low on veterans, McAdoo said the two days the team was on the field gave the quarterbacks a good opportunity to dip their feet into the upcoming training camp and season.

“Definitely, there’s more time you get to spend with (the quarterbacks). You get to know their mental aptitude and everything, so it helps a lot,” he said.

Being traded to the Riders in the off-season, Collaros said one of the things that will help his transition is a familiarity with the offence.

“He’s familiar with it,” McAdoo said. “He comes back into the process of trying to understand what we’re doing that’s different, things of that nature, but he understands exactly what we want from him.

“Coming out here he’s a professional, so he knows the things he’ll work on and that we’ll critique and he’s going to get better at it. That’s the good thing about Zach.”


By all indications, Collaros had a good camp and stood out from the moment he got on the field. A smart quarterback with an arm and that can threaten to run when given the opportunity, Collaros seems like he’d be the perfect fit for McAdoo’s offence, which thrived in Edmonton when Mike Reilly brought the same dynamics.

“He has the intangibles that we like,” McAdoo said, “but just like all the other guys, he has to come out and compete and earn that spot and go from there.”

As Jones stressed after the first day of the mini-camp, Collaros hasn’t been anointed the starter. Jones and McAdoo want a competition at the QB spot in training camp. Brandon Bridge re-signed with the team after leading the Riders to 10 wins last season splitting duties with Kevin Glenn. In his second full season in Saskatchewan, McAdoo wants to see the Mississauga native continue to grow.

“He looked decent (in mini-camp). There are things that Brandon needs to work on, there are things that we continue to talk about, just like with all the quarterbacks,” McAdoo said.

“I want to see him take bigger strides to be more focused as a guy that comes in and is a leader, things of that nature. He has some growth in certain areas and we’ve discussed those things, but staying consistent is the biggest key.”

The Riders also worked out Marquise Williams and David Watford. Williams joined the Riders almost a year ago and spent the majority of the season on the injured list. Watford signed with the team in October, 2017.

Brandon Bridge is still being evaluated for the starting QB role (Riderville.com)

With players and coaches rounding up their belongings around him and a bus waiting to get everyone to the airport for their flights home, McAdoo said his parting message for the four quarterbacks at the camp was a commitment to improvement.

“My biggest thing is every day we came out here, be better than you were yesterday. I wanted to see these guys improve and not take a step back,” he said.

“As a professional you have to look at your own weaknesses and push yourself when you go back and you’re not in meetings and work on those things. You have to learn plays, whatever it is, you have to go back and do that stuff on your own.

“This is not like a two or three-hour job. You have to go back and take some of your personal time and get better at things. So when they came out today my message was the things we talked about in our meetings, that we stressed about, to maybe go back and continue to work on those things.”