Mason looks Fine to backup Cody Fajardo after Riders 2022 preseason opener

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders/Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards

He’s had the inside track since last November and there was nothing in Tuesday’s Roughrider preseason loss to Winnipeg that would tell us Mason Fine will not win the backup quarterback job behind Cody Fajardo.

Fine had the best statistics of any Roughrider signal-caller, completing 13-of-18 pass attempts for 114 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 25-16 defeat to the Blue Bombers.

It could be argued the interception wasn’t Fine’s fault as his pass bounced off the outstretched fingertips of receiver Paul McRoberts into the hands of Tyqwan Glass, although the throw was a bit high.

“Right now it’s a competition every single day,” Fine said when asked if he sees the number two quarterback spot as his to lose after Tuesday’s tilt at Mosaic Stadium.

“There’s a lot of great quarterbacks in that room, I’m only going to control what I can control and let the coaches and guys upstairs make the decisions.”

Riders head coach Craig Dickenson indicated earlier in the week that Fine is second on the depth chart and confirmed as much post-game that Fine still has the backup spot.

“Probably, yeah,” Dickenson said. “I have to go over the film with [offensive coordinator] Jason [Maas] and talk to him but [Fine] looked like he was in command of the offence.”

Fine caught the attention of the Rider brass back in November of last season when the team surprised many by opting to take him, and not Paxton Lynch, to Hamilton for the season finale to backup Isaac Harker in a meaningless game.

Fine then moved ahead of Harker on the depth chart and immediately became Fajardo’s backup for the Roughriders playoff run, setting him up for the expectation of winning the backup job this season.

Rookie and former Cincinnati Bengal Jake Dolegala had similar stats Tuesday night, although he only threw the ball 10 times and still doesn’t have the familiarity with the Rider offence or the Canadian game that Fine has based on last year’s experience.

The other QB to dress for Saskatchewan in their preseason opener was Troy Williams who completed five short passes on seven attempts, but does not appear to have made many inroads.

The Roughriders, like all other CFL teams, need to cut down to 75 players, down from 10 the night before, on Wednesday.

After the game, Dickenson did say he would prefer to keep all four quarterbacks in camp on the roster for Friday night’s preseason finale in B.C. That means we may not have seen the last of Williams.

If Williams does survive this latest round of cuts, there will still be time for him or Dolegala to jump ahead and take the reins to backup Fajardo and there’s still time for it to all fall apart for Fine, too.

But halfway through training camp, like it was during the offseason, Fine is still the bet to end up as the Roughriders’ number two quarterback in 2022.

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.