Cody Fajardo is trying not to think too much about what could have been.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders star pivot had Grey Cup dreams last year and felt his team had all the weapons to pull it off, but will now lead a much different roster whenever the CFL takes the field in 2021.
“It’s hard for me to get super excited because last year on paper our team was stacked,” Fajardo told Chris Murray of Nevada Sportsnet.
“We were the favorites to win the Grey Cup last year and we lost a lot of players because some teams gave them a little more money. We lost a few defensive guys that were big-time players for us in the 2019 season to make us a good team.”
Among the key losses were veteran sack master Charleston Hughes and Most Outstanding Canadian runner up Cameron Judge, both of whom bolted to the Toronto Argonauts after the Riders made the surprising decision to move on.
Despite those moves being questioned by many of the Regina faithful, Fajardo still believes general manager Jeremy O’Day is doing a “terrific job” and believes in his ability to replace talent.
“Hopefully, what I’ve heard from our GM, he’s brought in a lot of NFL talent, a lot of young guys who aren’t true rookies. They’re guys who have played in the NFL for a couple of years, so they have professional experience. He said training camp is going to be very competitive,” Fajardo says.
While a distressed Fajardo remains concerned that the CFL’s conversations with the XFL might “dilute” the uniqueness of the league in the future, the quarterback is still anxious to get on the field and see those heated camp battles take place.
“I’m just excited for training camp. I used to take for granted training camp. I used to hate it. Every football player does. It’s mentally exhausting, physically exhausting and now you’re just eager to get back to training camp. It’s the little things like that that you would miss,” Fajardo explained.
Even the things that normally you try to avoid.
“After being out of football for a year and a half, what I would give to get blindside hit in the back one more time because that’s part of the game,” Fajardo joked.
While their quarterback might be able to take that, Riders fans might not be.