‘Never a question, I’ll be out there’: Riders’ Cody Fajardo battles through knee injury in Week 4 win vs. Als

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Cody Fajardo led the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a 41-20 redemption victory against the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday despite dealing with a lingering knee injury he suffered in Week 2.

Fajardo didn’t show visible signs that his left knee was bothering him until late in the third quarter when defensive end Antonio Simmons hit him low and was penalized for roughing the passer. The franchise quarterback was noticeably limping but stayed on the field for the remainder of the game.

“If I didn’t have my knee brace on, I probably would not have finished that game, but set me back for sure,” Fajardo told the media after Saturday’s game. “I gotta go see the doc, but it’s gonna set me back and I thought I was gonna be able to take the brace off next week but God had other plans for me. It looks like this knee brace will be on me for a couple more weeks.”

Fajardo completed 18-of-29 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns and scored another touchdown on a one-yard QB sneak. The six-foot-two, 223-pound passer did not throw any interceptions, which is an improvement from the two picks he had against the Als’ defence in Week 3. 

“Adrenaline’s running high right now I feel okay, but I think [Sunday] I’ll be definitely hurt,” continued Fajardo. “Another short week, got to do everything I can to get my body prepared and the fact that I finished the game is very encouraging.”

The 30-year-old has worn a knee brace twice in his football career. The first time was in his junior year of college at Nevada. He was dealing with the same knee injury as he is now, just with the other knee. 

“We think he’s gonna be alright, but he’s beat up pretty good,” head coach Craig Dickenson told the media after the game. 

Before the game, Fajardo said his knee was at about 80 per cent mobility. The brace has protected the quarterback so far, but his dominant ground game has been affected due to limited mobility and explosiveness. Fajardo remembers not running as much as he wanted to when he experienced the injury the first time. 

Fajardo left most of the ground work to running back Jamal Morrow, who rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season. The second-year Rider also earned a touchdown and two-point convert. Fajardo was impressed by the adjustments his offence made from Week 3 to Week 4 and gave recognition to the offensive line for allowing the running game to be so strong.

The native of Brea, Calif. was asked by the media if there’s a chance he might opt to not play in Friday’s Week 5 game against the Ottawa Redblacks because of the nagging injury. The starting passer did not hesitate with a response.

“Never a question, I’ll be out there,” said Fajardo.

Dickenson said he plans to cut back on the workload for Fajardo and the rest of the Green and White this coming week, since Fajardo isn’t the only Rider who is beaten up. The team will practice three times this week and Dickenson plans to cut back on reps and the amount of time they’re on the field in hopes that the squad can get their legs back to where they need to be.

“We got probably 16 guys that are really sore and beat up right now,” said Dickenson. “So it’ll be an interesting week trying to figure out which 45 we dress.”

Olivia Lawrence is a University of Regina School of Journalism graduate who covers the Saskatchewan Roughriders for 3DownNation.