Riders QB Bridge to start CFL West semifinal after Collaros scratched
Watford, Tate to back up Canadian pivot; Saskatchewan coach's focus on Bombers LB Bighill
Roughriders quarterback Zach Collaros has been scratched from the CFL West Division semifinal against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Canadian Brandon Bridge will get the start at QB and be backed up by David Watford and Drew Tate.
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.
Bridge took the majority of first-team snaps in practice on Friday, even though Collaros has declared himself ready to return to action after suffering an injury in Saskatchewan's regular-season finale.
Roughriders head coach Chris Jones wouldn't announce his starter on the eve of the game and only said both quarterbacks were prepared to play.
The winner of Sunday's match travels to Calgary next week to face the Stampeders in the West final.
When pressed for more information, Jones replied: "You guys place way to much emphasis on that. We're going to prepare both guys like they're going to play, and we'll see who plays."
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.
He's a big thorn in everyone's side. He's one of the best players in the league.— Roughriders head coach Chris Jones on Blue Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill
If Jones isn't putting much emphasis on who he starts against Winnipeg, he is certainly aware of how much damage Winnipeg linebacker Adam Bighill can do to either quarterback.
Bighill, the western nominee for the CFL's most 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.
"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. [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."