There was no visual evidence of Cody Fajardo throwing the football, but Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson saw with his own two eyes.
“I saw intermediate to short routes and I think he’s going to have enough in the tank to throw a deep route,” Dickenson said following a closed practice at Mosaic Stadium on Thursday.
“Today was going to be a test day for him, and so far he’s passed the test.”
The 27-year-old missed Saskatchewan’s regular season finale with an oblique strain. He suffered the back ailment during practice and said it felt like being stabbed. After a couple of rest weeks, Fajardo played a simple game of catch Wednesday.
Dickenson is bringing Fajardo along slowly throughout the week of preparation for the West Final. The quarterback’s plan was to throw 10-15 yards and stretch it out if his body responded well.
“Cody looked alright. He was moving around well,” Dickenson said.
“We had him do limited stuff, but we had him throw with the team…so we’ll look at the film to get a better idea, but all signs pointing that he’s going to be good to go.”
Rookie Isaac Harker would be the starter at QB if Fajardo can’t play or the injury gets worse during the game. He made his first career CFL start in place of Fajardo, completing 23-of-28 passing for 213 yards in the win against Edmonton as the Riders clinched top spot in the West for the first time since 2009.
Fajardo signed a lucrative two-year contract extension as the face of the franchise worth over $400,000 per season. He plans to be out there for a shot at the Grey Cup, but there is uncertainty making it more difficult to game plan.
“It effects you quite a bit. It adds an element of uncertainty in terms of our play calling. As far as the whole team, everybody knows when you sign up injuries are part of the game,” Dickenson said.
Fajardo led the Riders to a 12-4 record. He threw for 4,302 yards while completing over 71 per cent of his passes with 18 touchdowns against eight interceptions in his first season as a No. 1 QB. The dual-threat pivot used his legs for 611 yards and 10 touchdowns on 107 rushing attempts, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
“You gotta beat whoever shows up,” Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said.
The Riders offence is explosive when Fajardo is on the field and the green and white are planning for fireworks, but hopefully it doesn’t explode in their face.