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November 14, 2019

Nye: Worlds collide for Collaros, Fajardo

They started their year in a quarterback room on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan.

Now, Zach Collaros and Cody Fajardo are set to meet in the Western Final as opposing quarterbacks.

Collaros’ tenure as the Riders’ number one quarterback lasted three plays until Simoni Lawrence landed him back into concussion protocol and out of the Riders’ plan moving forward.

Collaros has a chance to do the unthinkable when he was being tended to by Riders athletic therapists. He could end the Roughriders’ season at Mosaic Stadium as the starting quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

I’m not sure you could write a better script of redemption for Collaros. And it’s not necessarily about the redemption against the Riders.

Of course, he would have wanted to keep his number one job. You’re not supposed to lose your job to injury after all. So deep down Collaros may feel a little bitterness toward the organization for trading him to Toronto for next to nothing even though the Riders’ experience behind Cody Fajardo was slim.

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But this redemption story for Collaros is more towards those who thought his career was over. Collaros never thought of retirement, however. He knew he could take a hit, as long as it was legal. After all, it was two suspendable hits that took him out of a number one job.

Now Collaros is healthy, cleared to play and showing again why the Roughriders thought he could have been their franchise guy when they traded for him in 2018 and signed him again in 2019.

Collaros has started two games and beat Bo Levi Mitchell both times.

It’s been an impressive return to football for the hard luck quarterback.

And now for the ultimate irony.

If the Riders would have kept Collaros, maybe their chances of winning this Western Final look a little more hopeful if their new number one can’t go.

All of Rider Nation is on edge with the health and status of Cody Fajardo, who has been sidelined for two weeks after he tore/strained/pulled his oblique muscle during a practice. It’s one of the three — Fajardo will only say he’ll give us the full extent of the injury after the season. The Riders are hoping that news doesn’t come out after this Sunday’s game.

It was an innocent throw near the start of practice that landed Fajardo on his knees, feeling like someone had come out of nowhere and stabbed him in the back.

Fajardo has promised to be on the field. The pressure is high for him to be there as he’s taken the reins from Collaros in Saskatchewan and locked down the ‘franchise’ tag with a new extension and has become the face of the franchise.

He doesn’t want to see his team fall without him being in the battle.

But nobody can control if his oblique muscle can hold up with the twisting motion needed to throw. I’m sure webMD has been a popular destination for Rider fans to find out all they can about oblique injuries and timeline to play.

It’s deja vu for Saskatchewan as a year ago they were playing the waiting game on Zach Collaros if was going to play in the Western Semi-Final against Winnipeg. Collaros had suffered a concussion against BC and the team wasn’t going to give anybody a straight answer about his availability the entire week.

It took TSN’s Dave Naylor to break the news on the eve of the game that Brandon Bridge would start.

Now it seems like the script is repeating itself.

 

We’ll find out more Wednesday or maybe we’ll have to wait until Saturday night again before we truly know who is starting for the Riders this week.

But the bottom line is this. The Riders’ chances to beat a surging Bombers team that seems revitalized with Zach Collaros will drop significantly with Isaac Harker starting just his second career game in the Western Final.

We all saw what the Bombers defence did to Bo Levi Mitchell.

Cody Fajardo needs to be close to 100 per cent and be able to use his full arsenal of passing and running to win a third game over Winnipeg this season.

With him only being able to throw a wiffle ball less than a week ago, that seems unlikely.

Although if you question Fajardo’s toughness, that’s something you likely shouldn’t bet against as it was also a bad bet to think Zach Collaros was done on play three of the season.

And here we are with two massive storylines colliding ahead of the West Division Final.