BOMBSHELLS: Collaros takes first live reps since Week 1
You’d have to go back to Week 1 of the regular season to find some video of Zach Collaros throwing the pigskin in the Canadian Football League.
That was four months ago — June 13, to be exact — and far from Collaros’ finest hour.
The opening game of the 2019 season was barely 90 seconds old when Collaros elected to keep the ball and run it up the gut for some positive yards.
He slid, a play that should have protected him from getting hit. Instead, Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence drilled Collaros with a nasty headshot that rendered Collaros prone at midfield for some time.
Lawrence was penalized on the play and handed a two-game suspension for the hit in its aftermath.
The impact for Collaros was far more severe and another bump in the road in a run of bad luck for the pivot, who missed four regular-season games and the Western Semifinal against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last season because of a concussion.
Playing at the time for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Collaros was relegated to the six-game injured list.
By the end of July, and still working his way back from the controversial hit, Collaros was now a member of the Toronto Argonauts.
On Tuesday, he took his first live reps since the game clock read 13:35 in the first quarter of Week 1, this time in the blue and gold threads of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who traded for the pivot at last week’s trade deadline.
“It’s been tough, something worth talking about after the season,” Collaros said. “It hasn’t gone the way I wanted it to go. But I’m not special, a lot of people are in that situation, too. Again, I’m very lucky that I’m out here playing the game.”
Collaros said he told his wife and a few of his buddies on Monday night that it felt like the first day of training camp. The only difference was there was now on the ground.
“It’s amazing, just the thrill to get back out here and take some live reps today,” Collaros said. “It feels good.”
Collaros had been tipped off as to some chatter surrounding his name in the trade sphere. He said he wasn’t sure how serious it was.
And then it happened.
“My reaction, besides my wife being upset that I had to leave home for a couple of weeks, I was really excited,” Collaros said. “Just talking to everyone here and watching this organization from afar over the last four or five years, you could tell they do things the right way and that’s been confirmed for me since I’ve been here.”
Feeling good and getting the systems down is one thing.
But could he play Saturday if need be?
“I can play anytime,” Collaros declared.
Not so fast, however.
Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea stopped short of saying Collaros is in Winnipeg’s plans any time soon.
“I don’t have that scenario just yet,” O’Shea said. “As I said, this is Chris Streveler’s team.
“I think it’s pretty early. He’s out there running around and having fun. It’s been a bit since he played football. He knows he has to get in a little bit better shape. He’ll work his arm hard and work his arm hard and keep studying.”
Normally, a starting quarterback seeing an experienced pivot walking through the doors at the trade deadline would be cause for concern.
For Streveler, he doesn’t appear to be too worried.
“Whatever we’ve got to do make this push in the postseason, I’m all on board for it,” Streveler said. “Obviously, Zach is a veteran guy, been in this league for a bit of time now. He’s got some great insight that he can offer this team.
“I’m all about winning and that’s all I care about at this point in the season. Whatever we have to do win I’m completely on board with that. That’s the bottom line.”
In quarterback meetings, the Blue Bombers now boast quite the roster of experience in coach Buck Pierce, Matt Nichols, Collaros and their starter, Streveler.
“That’s a great quarterback room,” Streveler said. “For guys that are young, like myself, Sean (McGuire) and now Trevor (Knight), to get to learn from those guys and bounce ideas off them … it’s nice to have them around.
“They’ve got a lot of good ideas. Just helps from week to week, the more ideas and the more eyes you can get on a different team, maybe you can come up with some differnet things.”
Blue Bombers defensive coordinator Richie Hall was back on the sidelines at Tuesday’s practice.
Hall has been granted a leave of absence from the team following the death of his brother a couple of weeks ago. He missed both Week 17 and 18.
Not having Hall, personally, created a hole for O’Shea.
“I rely on Richie a lot,” O’Shea said. “I sit in his office several times a week just checking things out with him. He’s been a very good coach for a long time but he’s a wonderful human being. You just take that out of the building for a little bit and guys notice, everybody misses him.”