Riders’ QB Cody Fajardo uses COVID-19 isolation to work into ‘the best shape’ of his life

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo has made use of the coronavirus isolation period.

Last time Fajardo was on the field he played with two torn oblique muscles and fought through the pain at less than 100 percent to come within an upright of potentially booking a Grey Cup ticket. The 28-year-old feels completely health more than six months after the West Final.

“This year has been a lot harder on me. I’ve taken on more long-distance running. The hard part for me and my off-season training right now — and I think a lot of athletes feel this way — is that we don’t have access to the weights that we usually have so a lot of us can’t just pack on mass like we want to,” Fajardo said on 980 CJME’s The Green Zone.

“But I can say this: I am in the best shape of my life. The running and the conditioning aspect of what I can do in my house and outside limits me. If I can’t pack on the muscle and the mass, I’m going to have to be in the best shape where I can handle everything that’s thrown at me.”

Fajardo led the Riders to a 12-4 regular season record throwing 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. He was named the CFL all-star quarterback in 2019.

Jason Mass was brought in as the offensive coordinator in the off-season. Maas was hired by the Riders in December, signing a multi-year agreement between Saskatchewan and Maas which runs through the end of the 2021 season. That times up with Fajardo’s contract which was finalized last October.

“I predict a lot of points, a lot of yardage and us getting the ball in our playmakers’ hands every single down,” Fajardo said.

“What I think is the most exciting for me, at least, coach Maas has tailor-made his offence over the years to make it where it’s everything that fits my strength and my weaknesses are masked through this offence.”

Maas has been watching film with Fajardo as the pair have gone through every game from Saskatchewan’s schedule a year ago. Of the utmost importance for Maas, he wants to protect Fajardo and keep the No. 1 QB on the field every time out to be able to direct his offence.

“I can tell [Maas] put a lot of time and a lot of effort into making me feel as comfortable as possible at the starting quarterback position,” Fajardo said.

“Anytime you have an offensive coordinator who puts his offence aside to make sure it’s tailormade to who his starting quarterback is, it truly tells a lot about who he is as a coach and as a person.”