Roughriders QB Fajardo unsure how long he can play the pain game

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WOLFVILLE — Cody Fajardo isn't sure how much longer he can continue playing on his ailing left knee.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders starting quarterback has been playing with a brace on his knee since the second week of the CFL season. Earlier this week, Fajardo expressed optimism his knee was actually starting to come around.

But that all changed Saturday afternoon in Saskatchewan's 30-24 loss to Toronto in the 2022 Touchdown Atlantic contest. In the second quarter, Fajardo was in obvious pain after being sacked by Argonauts defensive lineman Shawn Oakman.

Saskatchewan unsuccessfully challenged the play, citing roughing the passer. The Riders then had to settle for Brett Lauther's 30-yard field goal that tied the score 7-7.

Fajardo finished the contest, completing 24 of 34 passes for 284 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Toronto's Wynton McManis returned Fajardo's second pick 50 yards for a touchdown that, following a two-point convert, put the Argos ahead 30-24 with just over two minutes remaining.

Toronto's Shaq Richardson clinched the win, intercepting Fajardo for the final time with under 30 seconds to play.

Afterwards, Fajardo lamented about Toronto not being penalized for Oakman's sack.

“This is the second time I’ve taken a hit to the leg and no call has been (made)," he said. "Last time we got a call but there was no fine, no talk, no reprimand.

"If you're going to call it even, call it even. If I got a penalty there, it wouldn't make it feel any better but it would've kept us on the football field.”

And it's clear Fajardo is upset about the lack of penalties being called for low hits to his ailing leg.

"At the end of the day, it's player safety that's on the line and I'm pretty frustrated by it," he said. "I'm sure you can hear it in my voice.

"That's twice now that it's been the same knee (and) who knows if it's targeting on my knee? Everybody knows I'm not playing at 100 per cent and which knee is the injured knee, so I'm just going to leave that up for everybody else to think about."

The Riders will have two days off so Fajardo will have a chance to rest his knee. But the Riders return to action next weekend hosting Toronto and Fajardo remains unsure if he'll be able to play then.

"I don't know," he said. "I'll tell you this much, it was a lot worse than the last time I felt it."

When asked if he felt the ailment was career-threatening, the 30-year-old Fajardo remained unsure.

"I don't know," he said. "If it keeps happening week after week, I don’t know what's going to happen, how much longer my knee can take this.

"I haven't talked to the doc yet, but we'll see where we’re at. This is a major setback for me from where I was last week."

Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said he didn't really consider taking Fajardo out of the game.

"If I ever felt like he couldn't effectively run the offence or was in threat of injuring himself further, I definitely would do that," Dickenson said. "But he still was moving good enough to do what he needed to do."

And Fajardo made it crystal clear his desire is to remain on the field.

“I take pride in being one of the toughest quarterbacks in this league," he said. "I want to be out there with my guys."

Dickenson said as long as Fajardo tells him he can play, Fajardo will remain under centre.

"I trust him," Dickenson said. "If he tells me he can go, he’s going as long as he's not putting himself in danger of getting hurt."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2022

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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