Roughriders Cody Fajardo returns to practice before West final


Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo (Matt Smith/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

REGINA — Cody Fajardo was back practising with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Wednesday.

Fajardo missed Saskatchewan’s 23-13 home win over Edmonton on Nov. 2 with an oblique injury. Rookie Isaac Harker went the distance — completing 23-of-28 passes for 213 yards — as the Riders (13-5) cemented top spot in the West Division for the first time since ’09 with the win.

Fajardo took reps with the starting offence but only went through the motion of throwing. Near the end of practice, Fajardo threw to receiver Shaq Evans, first with short tosses before extending the throws to about 15 yards.

"Pretty good, as good as I think it would feel at this point," Fajardo told reporters after practice. "It’s not going to be 100 per cent, that’s what I’ve got to know going into this game.

"I’ve got to walk this fine line between getting myself ready for the game and not overworking it. If you overwork yourself and regress then you find yourself in a tough situation. Everything felt pretty normal and pretty good today."

But Fajardo said he’ll be on the field Sunday when Saskatchewan hosts the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West Division final. Fajardo was the CFL’s leading passer (4.302 yards) and is the conference’s nominee for the league’s outstanding player award.

"I will play Sunday unless something crazy happens … and I just can’t physically can’t do it," he said. "As long as I can walk and throw I’ll be out there.

"It’s the playoffs and guys understand it’s the playoffs. We have six months to recover after this so it wouldn’t be very smart of me to shut it down now, right, knowing I have that six months off to rest and recover. I’m going to be out there with my guys."

Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said the plan is to take things slowly with Fajardo. But he added Thursday’s practice will be an important one.

"(Thursday) is a more important day because we’ll go longer and put in more offence," Dickenson said. "(Thursday) is going to be a big day to see him out here but we’re going to take it slow with him and just kind of let him dictate the pace of how much he wants to do and how long.

"He’s going to dress (Sunday), there’s no doubt. Whether he starts or not, a lot depends on how he does this week but he will be dressed and ready to go."

Dickenson said Evans’s status for Sunday’s game remains up in the air. Evans was the Riders’ receiving leader this season with 72 catches for 1,334 yards and five TDs.

"His foot is bothering him a little bit," Dickenson said. "We’re going to have him out here (Thursday) we’ll see how he runs.

"But we’ll have to determine that on gameday with Shaq."

Dickenson is optimistic Fajardo will play Sunday. But if he can’t, Dickenson said he has faith in both Harker and No. 3 Brian Bennett.

"They’ve both been working hard this bye week spending extra time in the film room, extra time with the coaches and they’re ready to go if called upon," he said. "We’re hopeful Cody is able to go, I think he will be.

"But if not, Isaac and Brian are ready to go also."

Regardless of who starts at quarterback, Dickenson said his team is fully aware of what’s at stake Sunday. The Riders last won the Grey Cup in 2013 in Regina.

"You don’t have to really come up with anything motivationally to get the guys going," he said. "They understand the importance of the game."

Fajardo said he’s been battling an assortment of injuries throughout the season.

"I feel like I’ve played not at 100 per cent the last 10 weeks," he said. "There’s been a lot of injuries I’ve been dealing with this year as is every guy around this league.

"I just want to get to a point where I don’t think about it on every rep. I feel it when I run but I am able to run, which is great. The only thing I haven’t done yet is throw a deep pass down the field."

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