Riders stop short of naming Collaros starter for West semi

Roughriders quarterback Zach Collaros says he believes the CFL is trying to remove hits like the one that left him questionable for the West Division semifinal.

Collaros left Saskatchewan’s Oct. 27 regular-season finale against the B.C. Lions following a late first quarter hit from Odell Willis. He stayed in the game for the rest of the drive, but was pulled afterwards. He’s hopeful to play Sunday after taking a few snaps and participating in some drills at Wednesday’s practice.

Willis was fined the maximum amount by the CFL for his hit on Collaros. There was no flag thrown on the play, and an unnecessary roughness penalty was called only after the Riders challenged.

“I don’t really think that (type of hit) it’s going to disappear if it’s not handled in any matter where there’s a repercussion, right? It is what it is,” Collaros said.

Saskatchewan head coach Chris Jones said Collaros underwent and passed concussion protocol. He stopped short from naming Collaros the starting quarterback against the Blue Bombers and said the team would take it “day-by-day.”

“It’s pretty much in the trainers’ hands to make sure we’re not going to ever put a guy out there and put him at risk,” Jones said. “If he passes all that stuff and he’s able to show us that he’s able to compete and compete at a high level then he’ll play.”

Jones said his team has more to worry about than the hit.

“Odell was playing as hard as Odell could play. He used to play for me,” he said. “It’s not like he went out there trying to injured anybody, I don’t think.”

The Roughriders went on to beat B.C. 35-16 with Canadian Brandon Bridge taking the remaining snaps behind centre.

Bridge will start at quarterback for Saskatchewan if Collaros isn’t able to play. Jones said backup David Watford and new signing Drew Tate would also be available. Tate, a nine-year CFL veteran, was signed out of retirement last weekend as a precaution.

“Brandon has got to be ready and expect the worst, that’s what he needs to do,” Jones said.

Saskatchewan was without Collaros for four games earlier this season after he suffered a concussion in Week 2. The team went 2-2 without him.

Collaros has thrown for 2,999 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 14 games this year. Bridge, a Toronto native, appeared in eight games for the Riders and threw for 804 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

The Riders enter the West semifinal with a 2-1 record this season against Winnipeg, although the Bombers have won 5 of 6. Saskatchewan and the Blue Bombers finished second and third, respectively, in the West Division.

The Riders last played a playoff game in 2013 when they hosted and won the Grey Cup.

– CP

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