Chris Jones being coy with Zach Collaross status ahead of West Division semifinal

Chris Jones being coy with Zach Collaros\s status ahead of West Division semifinal
Collaros feeling good and hopes to play in West semifinal
Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback ZachCollaros looks downfield for a receiver during first half CFL action at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (Mark Taylor/CP)

REGINA — Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Zach Collaros says he’ll be ready to play on Sunday in the West Division semifinal against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Landry: The Trevor Harris story intrigues me. He’s been starving for a chance to come out on top in the big games and here’s his chance to show that his good performance down the stretch can be carried on in a playoff game. Two very good games against Hamilton during October, with first place on the line, definitely quieted the “yeah, but” critics a little. Can Harris silence them completely with a big Eastern Final showing?

Collaros says he feels good after leaving the Riders’ regular season finale against the B.C. Lions following a hit from Odell Willis.

Chris O’Leary: I still think it’s Calgary. They showed a flicker of what they were earlier this season, admittedly against a BC team that played flat, but maybe that’s the spark they needed. Bo Levi Mitchell seemed to rediscover some chemistry with his receivers, the run game was strong and the defence was airtight in the first half. If that team shows up in the playoffs, I think Calgary’s the favourite.

The Roughriders went on to beat B.C. 35-16 with Canadian Brandon Bridge taking the remaining snaps behind centre.

Don Landry: I believe Calgary has the best shot. They showed, on Saturday night, that they still have the ability to get things done in impressive fashion, even with all those injuries. The bye is huge for them and I think they’ll emerge from the West, heading into the Grey Cup with an incredible desire to rinse the taste of the last two championship games out of their mouths.

Saskatchewan was without Collaros for four games earlier this season after he suffered a concussion in Week 2.

Nye: Zach Collaros, Jeremiah Masoli, Trevor Harris and Matt Nichols. I feel all these quarterbacks still have something to prove. They’ll always be the question on whether they can lead a team to a title. They’re all 30 or over, right around the time a quarterback comes of age. Someone has the opportunity to shut up the critics.

After a weeklong break, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have returned to practice as they get ready for Sunday's CFL Western Semi-Final against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. However, the status of their quarterback is still a question mark.

In the Riders' last game of the regular season on Oct. 27, Zach Collaros was on the receiving end of an Odell Willis helmet to helmet hit. 

Matthew Cauz: Everyone expects me to say Calgary, so I am going another direction and saying Winnipeg. Ignore the final week loss which meant nothing for the Blue Bombers and focus on their impressive five-game winning streak before Week 21. No team scored more points than Winnipeg and only the Stampeders allowed fewer.

"I feel good out there on the field with the guys." said Collaros on Wednesday after their first official day of practice following their bye week.

Jamie Nye: The winner of the Western Semi-Final. Yes, I’m cheating on this one but I think the Riders and the Bombers are playing the best football as a group going into the playoffs and Calgary may have home field in the Western Final, but I think the Bombers and Riders are stronger teams right now.

During the course of the late season break, Collaros passed all the tests by the medical personnel. Now it's just a matter of convincing the head coach.

"You have to show them that you can think fast and be clear out there. That's what I am going to try to do," Collaros said.

Collaros left Saskatchewan’s Oct. 27 regular-season finale against the B.C. Lions following a late first quarter hit from Odell Willis. He stayed in the game for the rest of the drive, but was pulled afterwards. He’s hopeful to play Sunday after taking a few snaps and participating in some drills at Wednesday’s practice.

Just in case, head coach Chris Jones gave some first team repetitions Wednesday to backup quarterback Brandon Bridge.

Jones said Collaros has "passed all the protocol. It's pretty much in the trainer's hands just to make sure." 

If he passes all that stuff and he's able to show us that he can compete, and compete at a high level, then he will play.- Chris Jones, head coach"If he passes all that stuff and he's able to show us that he can compete, and compete at a high level, then he will play."

Saskatchewan head coach Chris Jones said Collaros underwent and passed concussion protocol. He stopped short from naming Collaros the starting quarterback against the Blue Bombers and said the team would take it “day-by-day.”

But if Jones remains true to form he won't disclose his starting quarterback until everybody else sees it for themselves after kickoff on Sunday.

Collaros has thrown for 2,999 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 14 games this year. Bridge, a Toronto native, appeared in eight games for the Riders and threw for 804 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

To cover their bases, the Riders have lured Drew Tate out of retirement from a college coaching gig in Carolina.

"I came straight from the beach. It was 75 [Fahrenheit]," joked Tate, who hasn't played in a CFL game in more than a year after retiring from the Ottawa Redblacks.

“I don’t really think that (type of hit) it’s going to disappear if it’s not handled in any matter where there’s a repercussion, right? It is what it is,” Collaros said.

Tate, who started his career with the Roughriders in 2007, spent eight seasons with Calgary amassing more than 5,000 yards in mostly a backup role.

“Odell was playing as hard as Odell could play. He used to play for me,” he said. “It’s not like he went out there trying to injured anybody, I don’t think.”

For now, Tate is content with collecting a playoff cheque and going back to his coaching job at season's end.

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