June 19, 2019

Riders to start Fajardo; Harker will play

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

REGINA — Cody Fajardo will be the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ starting quarterback for Week 2, the team announced Tuesday.

Both Fajardo and rookie Isaac Harker will see the field, but Fajardo will make the first start of his career in place Zach Collaros, who was placed on the six-game injured list on Sunday.

The Riders are looking for their first win of the season when they visit the Ottawa REDBLACKS in the nation’s capital.

“We’re going to start Cody and give him that opportunity to get out there and go,” said Head Coach Craig Dickenson. “He’s done a good job all week. But Harker’s going to play, so we’ll see how it goes.”

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On Sunday, Dickenson told media that a decision hadn’t been made, and the two quarterbacks would play for the No. 1 job in practice. As it turns out, the first-time head coach just didn’t want to tip his hand.

“We were going to do it all along,” said Dickenson. “We felt like he was the starter, we just didn’t want to advertise that. But he’ll get the start and I think he’s going to have a good game.”

The Riders have also signed veteran Bryan Bennett, who is expected to dress as the team’s third-string quarterback. Bennett was released by the Blue Bombers following pre-season.

Regular starting quarterback Collaros sustained an injury to the head/neck area on the first drive of the season-opener last Thursday, a loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Fajardo stepped in and completed nine of 17 attempts for 66 yards, adding 43 rushing yards and a touchdown.

“We’re going to try to tailor our offence to what he does best,” Dickenson said of Fajardo. “No different than what Ottawa does with Dominique Davis, we’ll try to tailor the offence to take advantage of what Cody does well and try to limit, because he doesn’t have the reps that Zach had in camp.

“I think as Cody’s level of comfort grows you’ll see the offence grow each week.”

It was the 23-year-old rookie in Harker who finished the game in Hamilton, showing poise and moving the offence while averaging 9.1 yards per attempt. Dickenson said he wants Harker to see early playing time on Thursday.

“We’ll have a specific plan for when he goes in, but a lot of it’s feel, especially in the second half,” said Dickenson. “We’ll try to get him some work early in the game and see how he does and second half we’re trying to win the game, so whoever’s hot at that point.”

Last year’s first round draft pick Dakoda Shepley could get the start at right guard after Dariusz Bladek was injured last week, while Braden Schram is expected to be the sixth offensive lineman.