Riders head coach Chris Jones mum on his West semifinal starting quarterback

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are throwing a flag on speculation that star receiver Duron Carter is on his way out of town after a fight at practice.
Chris Jones refused to tip his hand on whether Brandon Bridge or Zach Collaros start when the Roughriders host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West semifinal. Jeremy Zens / Global News

The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ quarterback situation seems to be up in the air as the CFL West Division semifinal quickly approaches, but Chris Jones doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

The Roughriders head coach refused to tip his hand on whether Brandon Bridge or Zach Collaros will be under centre when the Riders host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday.

READ MORE: Riders Chris Jones and Jordan Willams-Lambert nominated for league awards

Bridge took the majority of first-team snaps in practice on Friday, but Collaros has declared himself ready to return to action after suffering an injury in Saskatchewan’s regular-season finale.

“We’ve got both guys preparing to play,” Jones told reporters after practice.

When pressed for more information, Jones replied: “You guys place way too much emphasis on that. We’re going to prepare both guys like they’re going to play, and we’ll see who plays.”

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Collaros left Saskatchewan’s Oct. 27 game 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.

The oft-injured quarterback appeared in 14 games this season, his most since 2013 with Toronto. He threw for 2,999 yards with nine touchdowns, but was turnover-prone with 13 interceptions.

READ MORE: Roughriders QB Zach Collaros says he’ll be ready to play in West semifinal

Bridge passed for 804 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions backing up Collaros.

Despite the pedestrian numbers from their quarterbacks, the Roughriders were an impressive 12-6 this season and challenged the Calgary Stampeders for the CFL West division title down to the wire.

If Jones isn’t putting much emphasis on who he starts against Winnipeg, he is certainly dialed into how much damage Winnipeg linebacker Adam Bighill can do to either quarterback.

READ MORE: Blue Bombers begin prep for Roughriders in West Semifinal

Bighill, the western nominee for the CFL’s outstanding defensive player award, was a huge part of Winnipeg’s 10-8 season. He had 105 defensive tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and was tied for the league lead with four forced fumbles.

“He’s a big thorn in everyone’s side. He’s one of the best football players in the league,” Jones said.

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“You’ve got to block him. He’s a guy that can play in the middle of the defence and make plays sideline to sideline. Richie (Winnipeg defensive co-ordinator Richie Hall) has done a good job this year of trying to match him on backs, and get him in matchups where he can’t use his blitzing ability.”

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