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Cody Fajardo will start for Roughriders in Week 8 tilt with BC Lions

Dear Rider Nation: he’s back.

On Thursday the Saskatchewan Roughriders announced that the team’s starting signal caller, Cody Fajardo, will return under centre on the team’s opening drive Friday night when they host the BC Lions.

Earlier this week Fajardo told media that he expected to play on Friday and on Thursday confirmed that he would be the team’s week eight starter.

“I feel energized, I feel good, I’m just excited about playing football again,” Fajardo said. “Even though I missed a week, sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s taken away from you.”

Fajardo went on to say that his knee feels better than 70 per cent, and that this is this best it’s felt since the injury occurred, although he admitted he needs to see how it feels during in-game action.

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Read more: Roughriders’ Cody Fajardo returns to the field eyeing Week 8 start against BC Lions

“It’s pretty good. I mean, you don’t really know until you go out there and start getting hit,” he said. “It’s easy to go out in practice and kind of jog around or run around, but how many times do I run full speed? In practice, probably zero.

“You don’t really know (how it feels) until guys are trying to take your head off in a game, so we’ll so how it goes (Friday).”

Besides Farjardo, the team has nine additional players active to play the Lions that weren’t available on Sunday against the Argonauts.

That list includes: CB Nick Marshall, LB A.J Allen, DL Charbel Dabire, OL Terran Vaughn, WR’s Duke Williams, Justin McInnis and Wesley Lewis, FB Albert Awachie and recently-signed running back Shaq Cooper.

“We feel as good as we’ve felt in a long time with the COVID being out of the building for the most part and getting some guys back,” head coach Craig Dickenson summarized. “So, today was a good day, we’ve had a good week of practice and our guys feel fresh.”

Although things are beginning to look up for the green and white’s roster, they’re not out of the woods yet.

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Friday’s game against B.C. will still feature some roster shuffling, including guard Logan Ferland who is jumping over to play center.

It’s a move the 25-year-old has made once before as a pro in the 2021 regular season finale against Hamilton.

However, the experience gained playing the single game as the snapper will be something the lineman leans on during Friday’s tilt.

“Being in there, being comfortable, just staying calm,” Ferland explained. “Just staying calm for the guys and making the right calls.”

Read more: Saskatchewan Roughriders push weekend game to Sunday

His growth and comfort in the position were apparent to his head coach over this past week of practice.

“He’s snapping the ball better than he did, knock on wood, hopefully it holds up,” Dickenson said. “He’s just more confident, you can see that he’s a more confident player out there.”

“Logan’s played a lot of football games for us, obviously not at center, but he’s played a lot of football games, so I trust him completely,” Fajardo added. “I know our communication is going to be great, just talking through defences and personnels, what they’re bringing in, what they’re not. So, I’m really excited to see that front five go to work.”

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One of Fajardo’s targets will get his second consecutive start at slotback as Tevin Jones will look build on his season highs of five receptions, 67 yards and a touchdown.

“He’s slowly getting better each week and I never questioned his talent, it’s just the CFL game that he’s got to get used to,” Fajardo said. “He’s extremely talented. When the ball’s in the air he goes out and plucks it, so I’m excited to get another game with him, go out there and see what he’s got.”

“It feels pretty good, I’m more comfortable with my plays today than I was two weeks ago, so I’m ready to make something happen,” Jones said.

Although he doesn’t care how he affects the game, just so long as it results in a Riders victory.

“That’s two games in a row that we lost, I just want to win,” he said. “I don’t care if I have zero catches and I make a thousand blocks, perfect. I don’t care if I have a lot of catches and don’t have any blocks, I don’t care, I just want to win.”

The Roughriders’ schedule has been interesting to say the least, playing just one West Division opponent through the first third of the season.

That all changes this week.

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The Riders’ tilt with the Lions kicks off a set of eight straight against divisional opponents, a great opportunity for the fourth-placed green and white to make up ground in the standings.

“The only way to catch teams in the west is to play teams in the west,” Fajardo said. “So, we’re excited about the opportunity to play one of the hottest teams in the CFL right now and stack ourselves up.”

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