CALGARY — Should Zach Collaros play the regular season finale?
It was the great debate leading up to Saturday night’s matchup between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-2) and Calgary Stampeders (7-6) as the playoff seeding in the West Division has already been settled.
On one hand, if Collaros plays and gets hurt, people will be heading down to IG Field with torches and pitchforks.
On the other hand, if Collaros didn’t play, he’d be heading into the West Division final on Dec. 5 after three weeks of zero game action.
After weighing the pros and cons, Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea and Co. decided Collaros will play after all. Collaros will start the tilt at McMahon Stadium, but now the question is, how much will he actually play?
“Osh and I talked about it and I’m sure we’ll be talking throughout the game. But we’ll see how many drives it is and take it from there,” Collaros, the team’s Most Outstanding Player nominee, said at the team’s hotel in Calgary.
“I kind of told him, ‘If I play, I want to play the whole time,’ and he’s like, ‘Well, you’re not gonna do that.'”
Good thing the head coach has the final say.
Collaros will work behind the usual starting offensive line and all of his receivers, except Darvin Adams (shoulder), will be at his disposal. If they can string together a solid drive or two early, it could be a short night for Collaros.
O’Shea was asked why they felt it was important for their star passer to get in the game.
“I think that if I said to Zach that you’re not playing he’d be good with it, too. He practises with intention but I do think it’s a good thing to get the offence out there and get them rolling for a little bit and then we’ll make moves when we think it’s appropriate,” O’Shea said.
When the Bombers do make a move, it’ll be for third-string quarterback Dru Brown. Brown, a 24-year-old rookie, now finds himself as the backup as Sean McGuire injured his groin in practice this week and didn’t travel with the team. The Palo Alto, Calif., native hasn’t taken a single snap all season but now has an opportunity to make a name for himself in the three-down game.
“No one likes being patient in anything. That being said, the things that I’ve learned from camp until now, it’s extremely valuable learning from guys like Zach, Sean, Buck (Pierce), all those guys… It gives you confidence that when your number is called, whenever that is, you’re able to go out there and do your thing.” said Brown.
Brown’s had an interesting journey to the CFL. Listed at 5-11, Brown didn’t receive a single Division I offer out of high school and had to take his talents to a community college in California. He put up some impressive numbers and transferred to the University of Hawaii where he played two seasons and led the school to its first bowl victory in 10 years in 2016 with a four touchdown performance against Middle Tennessee in the Hawaii Bowl. He wasn’t happy with the direction of things at Hawaii, so he transferred to Oklahoma State in 2018. The move didn’t work according to plan as he ended up serving as a backup to Taylor Cornelius — the current starting quarterback for the Edmonton Elks. He failed to win the starting gig in 2019 as well, this time being beaten out by Spencer Sanders. Brown, who threw for 5,273 passing yards, 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions at Hawaii, finally got a chance down the stretch as he started the final three games for the Cowboys. He passed for 801 yards, seven touchdowns, and one interception and signed with the Bombers in March of 2020.
“Fiery competitor,” said O’Shea on Brown. “He’s got some of that Zach in him. They’re football junkies… We kept him for a reason. I think he’s a leader and I think that’s extremely important at that position.”
Now it’s up to Brown to show if his on-field play has any similarities to Collaros.
“I can’t speak on Zach enough. He’s essentially one of the best to ever do it,” said Brown “… He’s helped me out a ton. If I could maybe end up like him or something like that, that would be pretty sweet.”
VETERAN WR RELEASED
The Bombers released veteran wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt from their practice roster on Friday morning.
O’Shea said Roosevelt, a former star with the Saskatchewan Roughriders who was cut by Montreal at the beginning of the season, asked for the release and is retiring from football. The Bombers signed Roosevelt on Aug. 30 but he didn’t play a single game for the team.
“I wish we could’ve done more for him. He was brought in for a purpose,” said O’Shea.
“We had guys down and injured. We needed some relief in that regard and we never got him a chance off the PR. I do feel bad as he’s highly skilled.”
BO LEVI IS IN
Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell will start for the Calgary Stampeders tonight. The Stamps, however, are resting defensive linemen Shawn Lemon and Mike Rose as well as running back Ka’Deem Carey.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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