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ROB VANSTONE: Saskatchewan Roughriders cannot allow oft-concussed Zach Collaros to play again

 The 2018 Roughriders had a 10-4 record when Zach Collaros was the starting quarterback.
The 2018 Roughriders had a 10-4 record when Zach Collaros was the starting quarterback.

Simply put, it will soon be time for the Saskatchewan Roughriders to sever ties with Zach Collaros — not punitively, but out of compassion.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders aren’t rushing the passer.

Key decision-makers with the CFL team will take their time while comprehensively evaluating the status of oft-concussed quarterback Zach Collaros.

Collaros was placed on the six-game injured list June 16 — three days after an illegal hit to the head, administered by Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence , sidelined the 30-year-old signal-caller in the regular-season opener.

Although Collaros has rejoined the Roughriders for meetings, et cetera, he was not on the field Tuesday when the Roughriders resumed practising following a bye week.

After the practice, head coach Craig Dickenson stated unequivocally that Collaros will not be activated early from the six-game injured list.

Once the six games have elapsed, Collaros should not be activated, period.

Dickenson and associates cannot, in good conscience, expose Collaros to the possibility — or even the probability, considering his well-documented medical history — of another concussion.

Simply put, it will soon be time for the Roughriders to sever ties with Collaros — not punitively, but out of compassion.

Principally, the future interests of Collaros must be taken into consideration, as should the following words uttered Tuesday by Dickenson: “We’re going to make (the decision) based on what’s best for Zach, primarily, and secondarily what’s best for the team.”

“What’s best for Zach” certainly cannot be continued participation in an unavoidably brutal sport, especially when the quarterback is in the crosshairs of snorting behemoths on every passing play.

In fact, the verdict should have been clear leading up to the 2019 CFL season.

Collaros, remember, arrived in Saskatchewan — via a Jan. 3, 2018 trade with Hamilton — with a history of concussions.

He didn’t even make it out of the 2018 pre-season without experiencing some consequences from a hit to the head, suffered June 8 against the visiting Calgary Stampeders.

There was a carryover into Collaros’s second regular-season game with the Roughriders. He was sidelined during the second quarter after experiencing concussion-like symptoms during a June 21, 2018 contest against the host Ottawa Redblacks. A stint on the six-game injured list ensued.

After being reactivated in late July, Collaros put the onus on himself for not initially informing the coaches or training staff of the symptoms he had felt after being levelled in the pre-season collision with Calgary.

“I broke the rules and there wasn’t anything to do with the training staff or the coaches,” Collaros told reporters as the Roughriders prepared for their seventh meaningful game of 2018. “As a competitor, it’s hard to not want to be out there with the guys.

“In a new setting and a new situation and as the new guy, I just wanted to be out there with my teammates. I probably pushed a little bit too much and I paid for it by having to miss a couple of weeks.”

After missing four games, Collaros returned to duty and made 13 consecutive starts before absorbing another hit to the head in the Oct. 27 regular-season finale against the visiting B.C. Lions.

Collaros was able to practise leading up to a Nov. 11 home playoff game, but did not suit up for what turned out to be a 23-18 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

When Collaros wasn’t given the green light to play in the West Division semi-final, it was time for the Roughriders to turn the page at quarterback.

Yet, the team opted to re-sign Collaros on Feb. 12, after unsuccessfully trying to woo marquee pivot Bo Levi Mitchell away from the Stampeders.

From Day 1 of the free-agency period, the clock was ticking on Collaros.

It wasn’t a matter of whether he would suffer an injury, but when.

Nobody could have imagined that Collaros would again be concussed just three plays into the regular season.

That being the sad truth of the matter, the Roughriders have to proceed with extreme caution — a path that, from all indications, they are following.

Collaros is not eligible to be activated from the six-game injured list until the Roughriders face the host Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 9.

Given the scheduling, the Collaros matter need not be addressed with urgency. The Green and White can take some time before disclosing its plans for the eighth-year CFLer.

By this point, however, the decision should be obvious.

rvanstone@postmedia.com

twitter.com/robvanstone

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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