If you look up the uses of a mason jar, you’re likely to see the phrase “used for preserving.”
What could possibly be a more fitting description of the predicament the Saskatchewan Roughriders find themselves in after losing their franchise quarterback Trevor Harris in Saturday’s Week 6 loss to the Stampeders?
Backup quarterback Mason Fine looks to be in charge of preserving the Riders’ season in the aftermath of Harris’s cringeworthy leg injury, which occurred with nine minutes and nine seconds left in the fourth quarter after fighting for a badly needed first down.
It was a devastating sight for the 28,842 fans announced at Mosaic Stadium and the hundreds of thousands watching on TSN to see the face of the Riders’ franchise have his right knee twisted awkwardly under a falling 300-pound Calgary defensive lineman, Derek Wiggan.
The injury looked to be severe and head coach Craig Dickenson offered no update after the game.
“I don’t have it. I really don’t,” Dickenson said. “I stopped in there and [Harris] is in with the doctors but certainly it did not look good on the field and I know he’s in a lot of pain. We’ll keep them in our thoughts and hopefully, it’s not as bad as it looks.”
Dickenson couldn’t offer an update on Harris’ mental state either, but the quarterback’s dejected look while being carted off the field was worth a million words.
“I talked to him on the field and told him, ‘Hey, we’re with you and thinking of you and you’ll be alright.’ I’ll go in there and see how he’s doing,” the coach continued. “We’ll have to keep our fingers crossed and hope it’s not a season-ending injury.”
Fine is now the team’s quarterback and could be for the foreseeable future, pending an official diagnosis of the 37-year-old starter. The same guy who the Riders’ front office showed signs of trying to phase out in favour of pro football nomad Jake Dolegala back in the preseason.
That’s hardly a ringing endorsement for the signal-caller now tasked with preserving — there’s that word again — a 3-2 start that has the Roughriders within striking distance of first place even after the loss to Calgary.
But quarterback Mason did unleash some vibes that maybe the Riders will be Fine — we’re all about the puns here at 3DownNation — with him at the controls instead of the franchise saviour.
After his first drive stalled and Brett Lauther missed a 53-yard-field goal that led to a massive kick return by Clark Barnes and a Stampeder touchdown, the Riders were reeling from the loss of their leader and appeared to have lost their mojo.
As some were heading to the exits with their team trailing 27-17 and only five minutes remaining, there was Fine engineering a 69-yard-touchdown drive capped by an easy toss to Jamal Morrow in the flat. He followed that up with a third-and-24 hail-mary that bounced off the hands of Stampeders’ defensive back Jonathan Moxey and into the grasp of Roughriders’ receiver Tevin Jones to give the team the lead with only 36 seconds to play.
So what if the Riders’ defence blew it on the final drive and let Moxey off the hook in Regina?
Fine finished six-of-eight passing for 116 yards and two touchdowns while adding a nifty 24-yard scramble. He showed a little mojo of his own and swears he won’t let the magnitude of his new role get to him.
“There’s 12 guys out there on the football field,” Fine said. “I can’t put that pressure on me. That’s not fair to myself, but I do have to put the pressure on doing my job to the best of my ability and control what I can control.”
If he can’t get control of a Riders’ offence that sputtered mightily in Week 5 and most of Week 6, the rumblings about Dickenson and general manager Jeremy O’Day’s job security will re-surface.
Fine is in charge of preserving not only the Riders’ season and his own career — quarterbacks under six-foot and less than 200 pounds still don’t get a lot of second chances these days — but the livelihood of his team’s front office, too.
“I think he’ll be able to step in and win some games if he has to,” Dickenson predicted.
If that happens and Fine pulls this off, it will preserve a lot more than any other Mason jar ever has.