Don’t expect Cody Fajardo to stop diving headfirst: when you slide ‘you can’t really protect yourself’

Photo courtesy: CFL

Saskatchewan Roughriders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo has garnered attention this year for diving headfirst to finish off runs and he doesn’t plan to stop doing it anytime soon.

“It shows up time and time again on tape where when you give your body up like that, you can’t really protect yourself. Maybe I don’t look so crazy after all about sliding headfirst,” said Fajardo via videoconference.

Vernon Adams Jr. was the latest CFL quarterback to go down with injury in Week 10 when was tackled late in Montreal’s victory over the Ottawa Redblacks. The veteran passer did not given himself up on the play — headfirst or otherwise — and suffered a shoulder injury when his left arm got trapped under his body on a tackle.

“I’ve seen it over and over and over. I saw it with front-row seats in 2019 on the third play of the first game,” said Fajardo, referencing the concussion Zach Collaros suffered with Saskatchewan last season. “He slid feet-first and still got hit in the head. It’s hard to prevent that kind of stuff, but I find that sliding headfirst actually does prevent it.”

Fajardo’s rushing numbers have improved since the 2019 season, carrying the ball 58 times for 338 yards and four touchdowns in nine starts. He is the CFL’s seventh-leading rusher and ranks first among quarterbacks.

The Riders are coming off a Week 11 bye for their third consecutive meeting with the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday. Defensive tackle Mike Rose has made life miserable for Fajardo in back-to-back games, recording three sacks.

Fajardo plans to take a play-by-play mentality into Saturday’s game against the Stamps, suggesting there were times he had a clean pocket in Week 10 and didn’t take advantage of it by focusing too much on the rush.

“Even if he is creating a lot of havoc or a lot of pressure, just continuing to go through my reads and not get happy feet and give my team the best opportunity to move the ball down the field,” said Fajardo. “They’re going to make some plays and I can’t let those negative plays affect the outcome of the entire game.”

The Riders will visit the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium on Saturday with kickoff slated for 9:45 p.m. ET. One thing that will make life easier for Fajardo is having Shaq Evans and Duke Williams in the starting lineup, which will add a ton of firepower to Saskatchewan’s receiving corps.