After roughly 11 days of speculation Roughriders quarterback Zach Collaros joined his teammates on a snowy practice field Wednesday morning.
The Roughriders number one pivot was knocked out of the team’s last game on Oct. 27 after Lions defensive end Odell Willis’ helmet made contact with Collaros’ helmet.
Collaros completed a touchdown drive for his team, but was removed from the game shortly after. The team then went on a bye week so Wednesday offered the public’s first glimpse at Collaros since the injury.
“I feel good,” Collaros said. “It was good to be out there on the field with the guys practicing and getting ready for a big game this weekend.”
Collaros is no stranger to concussions. He had been pulled from two games previous to this one and he missed four games after admitting to hiding symptoms earlier in the season and taking a hard hit in Ottawa during week two of the season.
The quarterback admitted to assembled media that this concussion felt like those other ones did, but now he’s through all of the concussion protocol.
Depsite that, head coach Chris Jones would not say that Collaros would start against the Bombers in the west semi-final on Sunday. He’d rather take it day-by-day with his starter instead of rushing him into something too soon.
“It’s pretty much in the trainers hands – just to make sure. We’re not going to every put a guy out there and put him at risk so if he passes all that stuff and he’s able to show us that he’s able to compete and compete at a high level then he’ll play,” Jones said.
“It’s just making sure that there’s no kind of repercussions of that … it’s day to day and if everything looks good he’ll play.”
But what if he doesn’t?
The Roughriders will turn to Brandon Bridge as they have all season in Collaros’ absence, however, the club also added quarterback Drew Tate last week to add a veteran arm to the mix.
“(It’s) precautionary,” Jones said. “We’ve been down this road before. We don’t want to get into a situation where later in the week we don’t have two quarterbacks (at practice).”
“A couple of weeks ago we talked about it – who we could get if we ran into this situation and unfortunately that hit kind of put us in a situation where we did have to look around and we called (Tate).”
Tate was able to leave his job coaching football Coastal Carolina University to join the Roughriders – the place where he began his career – for the playoff run.
Collaros and Tate – by coincidence – took the same plane back to Regina after the bye week was over and Collaros said it was nice to have his experience to bounce ideas off of but that he hopes the team doesn’t need to depend on Tate in the game because Collaros wants to be in it.
“For me there’s a sense of urgency for getting back on the field,” Collaros said adding he’s working on showing the coaches he’s ready to play.
“You have to show them that you can think fast and be clear out there and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
The Roughriders closed practice on Thursday, so Collaros won’t be seen in action next until Friday.
Centre Dan Clark was back on the field as well on Wednesday morning. Jones says the offensive lineman had a good practice but won’t play Sunday against the Bombers unless there’s an emergency. Clark could be back on the field for the West Final if the Roughriders make it past the Bombers.
There were also two notable absences from practice — Shaq Evans is day-to-day with an unspecified injury and Brett Lauther was also not out with the team, but Jones said he’s OK.
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