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REGINA — Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo believes it’s possible for something good to come out of something bad.
Following last week’s 23-17 loss to the Stampeders in Calgary, Fajardo expressed his frustration in his receiving corps and a perceived lack of commitment to winning 50-50 battles for deep passes. It was an uncharacteristic outburst for Farjado, who apologized for his remarks after Tuesday’s practice.
He also spoke to his teammates about his actions and now believes they are back on the same page moving forward.
“I think it actually brought us closer," said Fajardo during Friday’s media availability. “Sometimes when you fight with someone you get a little closer and we personally had our best offensive (practice) day two days ago.
“We’re excited to get out there and play the team we lost to last week.”
Despite all the distractions and noise surrounding the Riders for the past week, Fajardo wants his teammates and fans to understand it’s not as bad as it seems.
“We’re second in the West, we’re a 5-3 football team and that’s kind of what I told the guys this week, that with all the craziness that happened outside of football, with the media, the things I said, it’s not like we’re the worst team in the CFL. We’re still second in the West. We’re not a bad football team.,” said Fajardo, who was 25-of-44 for 269 yards in the loss.
“We just didn’t show up, we didn’t play well. Starting with myself, I didn’t play well enough.”
The Stampeders burst out of the gate last week, opening an early 14-0 lead which resulted in the Riders having to alter their game plan in an effort to catch up.
Saskatchewan mounted a comeback in the second half but fell short with Fajardo being intercepted on a Hail Mary pass on the game’s final play.
Defensive back Raheem Wilson believes the Stampeders defence isn’t getting enough recognition.
“I think we’re probably the most underrated defence in the league right now due to our record,” Wilson said Wednesday. “I don’t blame anyone, with winning comes respect. We just expect to keep proving everyone wrong.
“We started off slow but people can guarantee we’re coming now.”
Since 2018, the Riders have a record of 8-2 in games following a loss. Head coach Craig Dickenson said there’s a simple explanation for that success.
“We have a resilient bunch,” said Dickenson. “I think we’ve got a bunch that’s got a lot of pride. Any time you get beat, you have a tendency to look in the mirror as a coach and as players. That’s part of it. The truth is we’ve had good teams. We’ve been good. We haven’t been the best but we’ve been good and usually good teams find a way to bounce back. I’m hopeful we can do it this week.”
During Friday’s media call, Dickenson was asked about Calgary’s quick start last week. He responded by saying every team wants a quick start every game.
“They want to start fast and take the crowd out of it. We want to start fast and keep the crowd interested and engaged,” said Dickenson.
The Riders have one change in their receiving corps this week with Justin McInnis replacing Mitchell Picton at wide receiver.
With Picton dealing with an ankle injury and McInnis performing well in practice over the past few weeks, Dickenson decided to make the change.
Additional changes will be coming in ensuing weeks as Shaq Evans gets closer to returning from a broken foot, while the recently signed Duke Williams could be activated after the bye week for the Oct. 23 game in Calgary.
CALGARY STAMPEDERS (3-5) AT SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS (5-3)
Saturday, Mosaic Stadium
WILL HE OR WON’T HE: Stampeders running back Ka’Deem Carey will be a game-time decision. Carey, who is dealing with a back issue, has gained 443 yards on 86 carries this season, scoring four touchdowns. If Carey can’t play, Roc Thomas will get the start.
STAMPEDERS LIKE REGINA: Since 2011, the Stampeders have a 6-1 record in Saskatchewan, including a 3-1 record at Mosaic Stadium.
BO LEVI CLIMBING THE LADDER: Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is currently 18th on the CFL’s list for career passing yards. He’s closing in on No. 17 Tom Burgess (30,308 yards) and No. 16 Sam Etcheverry (30,381 yards). Anthony Calvillo holds the CFL record with 79,816 yards. Mitchell also is moving closer to the Calgary franchise record for most career passing yards. Mitchell is currently second with 29,109 yards. Henry Burris tops the list with 32,191 yards.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2021.
Jeff DeDekker, The Canadian Press