VANCOUVER – A day after having surgery to repair his torn ACL, Ticats quarterback Zach Collaros will watch on TV back in Hamilton as his teammates take to the field against the B.C. Lions on Friday night.
Actually, make that coach Collaros. For now, anyway.
The 27-year-old continues to play a significant role behind the scenes after suffering a knee injury on Sept. 19, helping rookie quarterback Jeff Mathews settle in as the starter of a team with Grey Cup aspirations.
“Hopefully he wants to play for ten more years but if he wants to coach, he’s going to be a great one,” Mathews said. “He understands how to communicate with people, especially other quarterbacks.”
Collaros was on the sidelines for Mathews’ first start against the Calgary Stampeders and the win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, even adopting the play-sheet-on-a-string style favoured by head coach Kent Austin. Mathews said Collaros played a central role in a third quarter touchdown pass to Terrell Sinkfield against the Riders.
“He’s been all over me about hot reads and making sure I know what they are because he knows defences like to blitz young quarterbacks,” Mathews said. “When I ran to the sideline, I pointed at him because, man, that was awesome. He had the foresight to see what would happen and it led to a big play for us.”
Mathews will have the benefit of Collaros’ knowledge and experience for the remainder of the season. Instead of opting to have the surgery and do his rehabilitation back home in Ohio, Collaros elected to stay in Hamilton.
“He was encouraged to do what he felt was best for him,” Austin said. “But he wants to be around us.”
Collaros has already said that he’s aiming to back in time for training camp next season, just over seven months from now. That would be on the aggressive end of the typical nine-to-12 month recovery time.
“Of course I hope that he’s ready but being ready in training camp isn’t as important as being completely ready,” Austin said. “Let’s just say it will be monitored. He’s an individual that will have a tendency to push too hard.
“There are no red flags to indicate that he won’t have a full recovery over a given time period that is reasonable.”
Until he gets back on the field, Collaros will have to channel his competitive energy into rehab and helping his teammates win games without him. Mathews says he’ll take everything Collaros has to offer.
“No.1, it’s because Zach’s a great guy and having him around is huge for our team,” he said. “He’s a guy I respect tremendously as a person and a player and his insight has been very valuable.”