Jones coy, but look for Collaros to start at QB
Coach won’t name starting quarterback, but all signs point to new guy in town
Zach Collaros looked comfortable at the podium while meeting with the media Thursday.
It remains to be seen whether he’ll be comparably at ease Friday when the Saskatchewan Roughriders play host to the Toronto Argonauts.
Chris Jones, the Riders’ head coach and general manager, has yet to reveal if Collaros or Brandon Bridge will start at quarterback. The decision is known internally, but Jones isn’t making it public.
“We’ll see, we’ll see,” Jones said with a chuckle.
“They both work extremely hard and our offensive staff has done a nice job with them. They know what their roles are and exactly how things are going to work out.”
All signs point to Collaros, who has taken the majority of repetitions with the first-team offence. That’s usually an indication of who will be the starter.
Collaros has approached his time with the Riders with the mindset that he’s the starting quarterback.
“Like I’ve said the entire time, all quarterbacks should approach it that way,” Collaros said.
Former Riders starting quarterback Darian Durant feels Collaros will be a good fit for the team.
Durant, who spent 11 seasons with the Riders before being traded to the Montreal Alouettes in January of 2017, based that assessment on how Collaros handled his time with the Hamilton TigerCats. Hamilton traded Collaros to Saskatchewan in January.
“Of course, Saskatchewan has a bigger fan base, but Hamilton has always been a tough place to play,” Durant told the Regina Leader-post’s Rob Vanstone. “The fans there are great and they can get loud. I have heard them get on their home team as well. He has been in a tough place and he has heard the boos and he has heard all of the cheers. He has basically prepared himself for what he’s going into now.”
The 29-year-old Collaros spent four seasons with the Tiger-cats, guiding them to the 2014 Grey Cup game. In 2015, he was on pace to win the league’s most outstanding player award before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Collaros struggled when he returned to Hamilton’s active roster in 2016. He lost 12 consecutive games over the 2016 and 2017 seasons before being replaced by Jeremiah Masoli.
Durant feels Collaros should be able to regain the form he showed in his early years with the TigerCats.
“Look at the talent that he has offensively and look at that defence,” Durant said.
“Chris Jones has always done a great job of having his defence ready to play. Zach has all the tools in place to have success.”
Durant became familiar with Rider Nation during his tenure in Saskatchewan and therefore appreciates the expectations quarterbacks face.
“You go out there, you win, you have success, you’re exciting the crowd, and it’s the best stadium ever — the best place ever,” Durant said. “The fans are just tremendous. You just have to stay levelheaded, because there are going to be tough times.”
Collaros is looking forward to the good times, especially when it comes to running out of the tunnel onto the Mosaic Stadium turf. However, there is an aspect of that entry that concerns Collaros.
“With the mist, I’m always kind of scared running through that,” Collaros said. “I’ve seen too many (instances) of cheerleaders getting run over. Selfishly, I don’t want to trip over a cord. That would be awful and that would be a TSN blooper forever.
“I’m really excited about (running onto the field) … There’s no feeling quite like that, getting hyped up (and) the adrenalin. The first play, there’s always a ton of adrenalin and then after that, you’re just playing football again. You kind of tune everything else out.”
Riders receiver/cornerback Duron Carter is impressed with how Collaros has settled in with the Riders.
“He was slinging it out there this week,” Carter said. “He’s an amazing leader. He’s putting in the extra time and getting everybody involved with extra meetings. I can’t wait to get into the game with him.”
The team has not revealed whether Zach Collaros will be the starting quarterback for the Riders Friday.