TORONTO — Zach Collaros is getting the chance to don the double blue … again.
The veteran signal-caller is entering his second tour of duty with the Toronto Argonauts, and while he’s still not ready to return to full-time game action, he’s already settling in.
In his first day back in the city, he was able to watch the Argos complete a comeback victory against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Week 8.
In the latest edition of The Waggle presented by Sport Clips, Donnovan Bennett talked with Collaros about the trade, his goals and expectations with his new team, as well as the competition at quarterback for Toronto.
EPISODE OVERVIEW: We’re talking QB’s this week, as we discuss back-ups stepping up across the league, as well as Matt Nichols and the Bombers eastern slide. Later, Marshall Ferguson joins us to talk about the Ticats with Dane Evans, and newest Argo QB Zach Collaros talks about his return to Ontario.
EPISODE RUNDOWN: Are special teams failing? (1:00); Did the Argos win or Bombers lose? (5:30); Can Trevor Harris ever beat Calgary? (9:45); Josh Johnson calling out plays in Calgary (11:20); Luck and superstition, Reilly’s beard comments (12:20); MBT tough talk (15:30); LeoVegas playoff odds (16:05); LJ McCray celebrating his hit (19:15); DJ’s ‘objectionable conduct’ (21:10); Marshall Ferguson drops in and talks QBs in the East (23:20); Zach Collaros interview (30:00).
“I’m feeling a lot better than I did six weeks ago – even three weeks ago. There have been some lingering things with my neck and we’re trying to figure that out and clear that up,” Collaros said of his current injury situation. “I was able to meet the training staff for the Argos the other night and I know some of the doctors from my time there six years ago so I’m just going to trust the process, trust those guys, and hopefully get on the field sooner rather than later.”
The 2019 campaign got off to the worse start imaginable for Collaros, but now, he has a solid chance to make up for lost time in the place where his CFL career began.
Following a solid collegiate career at Cincinnati, Collaros worked out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but did not make the team. He opted to sign with Toronto in June 2012.
He dressed for a single game that season, completing 7 of 11 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Collaros served as the backup to Ricky Ray in 2013, and he was able to showcase himself for a stretch at the end of the campaign when the starter went down with an injury.
With Ray firmly entrenched as the Boatmen’s signal-caller, Collaros took the chance to seize a starting job, signing with the rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the 2014 offseason.
He’d begin to cement himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league while with the Tabbies. He’d help lead the team to a Grey Cup berth in his first season with the organization.
Collaros led the league in yards, touchdowns, and quarterback efficiency before suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2015.
He’d spend four total seasons with the Tabbies, completing 66 percent of his passes for 11,342 yards, 66 touchdowns, and 32 interceptions over that span.
Another trade would see the pivot go from Hamilton to Saskatchewan ahead of the 2018 season in exchange for a second-round pick.
Collaros was injured on the first drive of this season after a late hit from Ticats linebacker Simoni Lawrence forced him out of the contest. With Cody Fajardo putting in solid performances in relief, the Riders decided to make a move. They shipped the 30-year-old Collaros back to the Argos for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2020 CFL Draft.
“It actually kind of came as a surprise, actually. But Cody (Fajardo) has done a great job for them and will continue to do a great job, Collaros said. “They felt like it was something smart for the organization and maybe smart for me. It’s another opportunity and we’re closer to our family and we feel good being here in Ontario.”
After learning about the trade, Collaros made sure to say goodbye to some members of the organization that he’d grown close to before calling his wife to let her know.
“She asked ‘Is this a good thing?’ and I said ‘Yeah, it’s a good thing, I think it can be a good thing,’” Collaros said. “She’s happy, obviously, with her being from Ontario. It’s a good thing for us. Initially, I was surprised but we’ve settled into things now.”
As his second stint with the Argos gets underway, Collaros enters a crowded quarterback room in Toronto. James Franklin was the game one starter for the team, but he’s spent time on the six-game injured list. McLeod Bethel-Thompson has taken over during that time, but aside from a solid performance in Week 8 against Winnipeg, it’s been tough sledding for him. Dakota Prukop and Michael O’Connor also offer good future options for the double blue.
“It’s a very good group of quarterbacks and I got to meet all of those guys the other day,” Collaros said. “I’m looking forward to talking ball with them and helping in any way I can and hopefully take some information from them an apply it to my game as well.”
After arriving ahead of the Winnipeg game, Collaros got out on the practice field with his new team on Thursday, albeit in a non-contact jersey and without a helmet. Toronto is attempting to get him up to speed with offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine’s system so that he can immediately jump in and contribute once he’s cleared to play.
Collaros says that he sees himself as a starter, but until he’s back to 100 percent, he can only focus on his health.
Regardless of where he slots into the lineup, he’s another weapon in a very promising offensive unit in Toronto.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of talent there. Just from the brief snippet I got from coach Chaptelaine’s system, the receivers have to be able to think as well as play, and I think they did a great job of knowing what they’re supposed to do in different situations. I’m just excited to join those guys and get to work.
“It’s a long season. Fortunately for us, the East is wide open and no one is too far out in front.”
The Argos will return to action on Aug. 16 when they welcome the Edmonton Eskimos to BMO Field.