Starting quarterback Cody Fajardo looks set to miss his team’s Week 7 matchup with the Toronto Argonauts, as the team has officially named third-stringer Jake Dolegala as the starter on the depth chart.
Fajardo has been wearing a brace on his left knee since Week 2 and reportedly suffered a “major setback” to the injury in last week’s Touchdown Atlantic game after being tackled low by Toronto defensive tackle Shawn Oakman.
That left his status for the rematch against the Argos very much in jeopardy, but the situation became exacerbated by the Riders’ recent COVID outbreak — which prompted the game to be postponed until Sunday.
Neither Fajardo nor backup Mason Fine has been able to practice all week and while the names of those who have tested positive for COVID have not been disclosed, both have been listed as battling illness on the injury report.
As a result, Dolegala — the team’s lone healthy quarterback — draws his first career start, whilst Fine is listed as a game-time decision for the backup role.
A 25-year-old rookie signed by the Riders this offseason, Dolegala attended Central Connecticut State University, where he played in 44 games over four seasons (2015-18). Over his time as a Blue Devil, he completed 654 passes for 8,129 yards, 48 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions and added an additional 452 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. He left the school as its all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns.
Standing at six-foot-seven and 242 pounds, Dolegala was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and spent the entire season on their active roster. The native of Hamburg, N.Y. went on to spend time with the New England Patriots (2020-21), Green Bay Packers (2021) and Miami Dolphins (2021) before heading north.
In two preseason appearances for the Riders this year, Dolegala was 15-of-21 passing for 147 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Despite currently residing on the one-game injured list, Fajardo can’t be officially ruled out for the game as the CFL allows players who exit COVID protocol after the release of the depth chart and prior to kickoff to be added to the roster.
However, given the injury to his knee and the lack of practice reps, the Riders have acknowledged that Dolegala is almost certain to start regardless and any insertion of Fajardo would be in the backup insurance role.