Quarterback Paxton Lynch captures attention of Riders during Green and White scrimmage

The first name out of Craig Dickenson’s mouth when asked about evaluating the quarterback performances during the Green and White scrimmage: Paxton Lynch.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have been complimentary of the former first-round NFL Draft pick throughout camp. Lynch is competing with incumbent Isaac Harker, Tom Flacco, and Mason Fine for the backup QB job behind Cody Fajardo.

“I thought Paxton put together a nice drive at the end, he got the ball out of his hands quickly,” Dickenson said.

According to unofficial statistics kept by Regina Leader-Post reporter Rob Vanstone, Lynch completed 7-of-10 passes for 67 yards with one interception that was tipped by A.J. Hendy and grabbed by linebacker Nigel Harris. The former Denver Broncos pivot led the Riders to a field goal at the end of regulation time.

Lynch was the only quarterback the 49-year-old bench boss mentioned by name in his post-game press conference. That scrimmage impression left by the six-foot-seven, 244-pound passer could help boost his chances of making the final roster.

“The reality is the guys that played well in this game are going to have a leg up on their competition when it comes to making the team,” Dickenson said.

“Overall, we’ll look at the film, but I thought for the most part, the quarterbacks all showed themselves well and it’s going to be a tough decision to decide who the two and the three are.”

Dickenson admitted it’s “brutally difficult” for quarterbacks to be evaluated without real, live pre-season games against an actual opponent. However, every team in the CFL has to deal with the reality of the COVID-19 situation and select a roster to start the season from the 75 players plus non-counters that remain in training camp.

“I told them in there, if you felt like you didn’t play as well as you would’ve liked to have played, you still got a chance,” Dickenson said. “There are still three to four days of practice where we can get you out there and you can make an impression. That was the message: don’t lose hope, there is still time.”

The head coach was complimentary of the quarterbacks clock management and huddle leadership. Dickenson will rely on offensive coordinator Jason Maas to watch the film and tell him how the group of signal callers played within the scheme.

“We’ll have an idea of who we like after this scrimmage and might try to get some more situations next week where we can put those quarterbacks under the gun,” Dickenson said.

“We did have some interceptions which we gotta take care of the ball better, but a few of them were tipped balls. I thought for the most part they played decent.”

Saskatchewan’s football operations department is currently planning to meet on the night of Thursday, July 29 to decide who the cuts will be and inform the players the following day. That leaves just a handful of opportunities for the quarterbacks to earn a spot on the regular season team.

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