The Roughriders will start rookie QB Dolegala against the Argonauts on Sunday

Rookie quarterback Jake Dolegala will start his CFL debut when the Riders face the visiting Argonauts on Sunday.

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Craig Dickenson had fun before revealing the Saskatchewan Roughriders starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Toronto Argonauts.

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“I could say we’re not sure, but nobody would believe us,” the Riders head coach said with a smile after Friday’s closed-door practice at Mosaic Stadium.

Dickenson then confirmed that Jake Dolegala would be the starter on Sunday (5 p.m., TSN). The Riders had no choice but to promote Dolegala from third string to starter due to injuries and an outbreak of COVID-19 within the CFL squad.

Starting quarterback Cody Fajardo did not practice this week due to a knee injury and COVID-19. Mason Fine, the Riders’ second-string quarterback, has been ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols.

“Hopefully we get them both here (Saturday),” Dickenson said. “So it will be Jake and whichever of these two is ready to roll.”

The quarterback situation could become risky if Fajardo or Fine can’t play because the Riders’ emergency quarterback shouldn’t be available. Cornerback Nick Marshall filled that role, but he’s under COVID-19 protocols and won’t be cleared for Sunday’s game. Marshall played quarterback at Auburn University.

“We’re hoping Mason or Cody will be our replacements,” Dickenson said. “I’m pretty confident that one of them will be.”

With Fajardo and Fine on the sidelines, Dolegala was the only quarterback available for the Riders’ two practices.

Dickenson said the 6-foot-7 Dolegala looked better in Friday’s closed practice compared to Thursday’s open session. Tuesday and Wednesday practices have been canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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“The offensive coaches did a good job of taking our packages and simplifying them a bit so Jake felt more comfortable calling him,” Dickenson said. “Conversely, the attacking guys felt more comfortable leading him.”

Sunday would be Dolegala’s first professional start in the regular season. Dolegala, 25, had NFL stints with the Cincinnati Bengals (2019), New England Patriots (2020-21), Green Bay Packers (2021) and Miami Dolphins (2021) before signing with the Riders on February 14.

He appeared in two preseason games with the Riders, completing 15 of 21 passes for 147 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He spent the regular season being a healthy scratch on game days.

“It’s a dream to start at the professional level,” Dolegala said Thursday. “I look forward to the opportunity. If I’m able to start, that would be damn cool.

Dolegala was then asked on a scale of 1-10 about his confidence in his ability to play on Sunday.

“A 10,” he said. “Why not?”

The Riders have been dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak since returning from last Saturday’s Touchdown Atlantic game against the Argonauts.

The Riders have 11 players listed in Friday’s injury report with illnesses. Six of those players are out for Sunday’s game. Dickenson all but confirmed that these players were involved in COVID-19 protocols.

There was good news when center linebacker Darnell Sankey and defensive back Rolan Milligan practiced Friday after clearing COVID-19 protocols. Dickenson didn’t seem optimistic about many other players with COVID joining Sankey and Milligan for Sunday’s game.

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“We are where we are right now, but after this game everything should be fine,” said Dickenson, whose Riders will face the visiting BC Lions on July 29.

Sunday’s game was originally scheduled for Saturday. It was moved to Sunday due to the COVID-19 outbreak among runners.

The Riders are 4-2 going into Sunday’s rematch. The Argonauts, who have had no reported cases of COVID-19, have a 2-2 record. Toronto beat the Riders 30-24 in the Touchdown Atlantic game.

“It would be great (if the Riders won),” Dickenson said. “I’m giving Toronto props because they’re going to be ready to play. Our guys had a good day (Friday) and they know the expectation is to win.

“They are here for a reason. They are all professional footballers and they are paid. They are expected to perform well. I think everything will be fine. »

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