After battling knee injury, Riders’ QB Cody Fajardo believes he has his ‘explosion’ back

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Saskatchewan Roughriders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo believes the worst of his battle with injury this season may now be behind him.

Fajardo has been wearing a brace on his left knee since suffering an injury to his MCL in Week 2 and has been significantly hampered ever since. Coming off the bye week, the dual-threat pivot said he felt the healthiest he has been since before the injury while leading his team to a 34-23 victory over the Edmonton Elks.

“I took a few shots on it and didn’t feel anything, didn’t have any setbacks in the game,” Fajardo told assembled media post-game. “I was able to run fairly well and move around in the pocket.”

Battling against heavy winds in Edmonton, the 30-year-old’s passing stats left much to be desired, as he completed 11-of-20 attempts for 130 yards, a touchdown and an interception. However, he was able to use his legs in a way that had not yet been possible this season, taking off eight times for 51 yards and two scores.

Bringing his trademark mobility back to the forefront was a focus for Fajardo heading into the contest.

“If I rush for over 30 yards, our win-loss record was astronomically better. That was something I thought about going into this game, where if I can find a way to extend some drives and get some first downs with my legs feeling better after the bye week, and we ended up winning,” the quarterback admitted.

“Maybe they correlate, maybe they don’t but to be able to feel like myself again and have my legs back and escape the pocket, I think it makes it a little bit easier on our guys up front and then it creates some big plays down the field.”

Fajardo’s production on the ground amounted to a full third of his rushing total through eight games but he wasn’t the leading running quarterback on the evening. Edmonton’s Taylor Cornelius took off seven times for 86 yards and two scores of his own, a fact that pushed the Riders’ face of the franchise to be better.

“You’ve got to use your legs to extend drives and that’s why it was so competitive, because Cornelius found a way to extend drives,” Fajardo explained. “It was one of those things where it’s like, okay, he did that, I feel like I can do that. You’re kind of working that competition off each other.”

The outing should put to bed the concerns around Fajardo’s health that have plagued Saskatchewan all season and fueled discussion about his merits as the starter.

The freshly mobile gunslinger grinned at the possibility of never fielding a question about his knee again but acknowledged he will still be sporting a reminder.

“I’ve still got the clunky knee brace on, I’ll probably have that for the rest of the year, but I’m feeling good,” he remarked. “I felt like I was moving around and like I told you guys leading up to the week, I felt like I had my explosion back getting out of the pocket.”

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.