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Cody Fajardo is Riders' early favourite for most outstanding player award

As the Riders head into the stretch run of the season, the Leader-Post's Murray McCormick breaks down the early nominees for the league's individual awards.

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It hasn’t been an outstanding season so far for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but there have been some notable individual performances.

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However, the CFL’s individual awards won’t be announced until before the Grey Cup game, which is set for Dec. 12 in Hamilton. The Leader-Post’s Murray McCormick is still offering his preliminary choices for the Riders’ nominees, recognizing that things could change over the five remaining regular-season games.

MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER

Winner : Cody Fajardo.

Runners-up: Kyran Moore , Loucheiz Purifoy, William Powell, Jonathan Woodard.

Rationale : In 2019, Fajardo was the Riders’ uncontested nominee for most outstanding player after leading the CFL in passing yards (4,302) while completing 18 touchdowns against eight interceptions and rushing for 10 touchdowns. He was selected the West Division’s most outstanding player along with being named a CFL all-star. This season, Fajardo is third in passing yards (2,104) in the CFL. He has completed eight touchdown passes against eight interceptions and rushed for four touchdowns. Fajardo’s stats might be better if Shaq Evans, the Riders’ leading receiver and a CFL all-star in 2019, hadn’t been limited to five quarters by a broken foot. Evans is slated to return Saturday when the Riders are in Calgary to play the Stampeders. Kyran Moore leads the Riders in targets (76), receptions (57) and receiving yards (507) and has scored two touchdowns. For everything Fajardo means to the Green and White, he’s still the Riders’ most outstanding player.

Loucheiz Purifoy is an early favourite as the Roughriders’ nominee for most outstanding defensive player.
Loucheiz Purifoy is an early favourite as the Roughriders’ nominee for most outstanding defensive player. Photo by Troy Fleece /Regina Leader-Post

MOST OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE PLAYER

Winner : Purifoy .

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Runners-up : Deon Lacey, Micah Teitz, Woodard, Ed Gainey, A.C. Leonard.

Rationale : Purifoy is the Riders’ most versatile player, having played defensive halfback, strong-side linebacker and safety. At the latter position, he’s currently filling in for an injured Mike Edem. Purifoy’s coverage skills are airtight. Overall, he has 31 defensive tackles, an interception and three knockdowns. Purifoy also contributes on special teams, where he’s averaging 23.6 yards on six kickoff returns. Lacey has been steady at middle linebacker with 33 defensive tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Woodard leads the Riders and is tied for the CFL lead with seven sacks, with five of them taking place in two games. The nod goes to Purifoy, whose ability to play multiple defensive positions seals the nomination.

Saskatchewan Roughriders centre Dan Clark, left, and quarterback Cody Fajardo walk off the field at Mosaic Stadium after a recent practice at Mosaic Stadium.
Saskatchewan Roughriders centre Dan Clark, left, and quarterback Cody Fajardo walk off the field at Mosaic Stadium after a recent practice at Mosaic Stadium. Photo by Troy Fleece /Regina Leader-Post

MOST OUTSTANDING OFFENSIVE LINEMAN

Winner : Dan Clark.

Runner-up : Logan Ferland .

Rationale : The offensive line has struggled while dealing with a number of roster moves due to injuries and performance. Despite those issues, Clark has stood out. The Regina product and veteran centre earned his first CFL all-star nod in 2019. He remains the foundation of the Riders’ offensive line and is well respected team leader.

Linebacker Micah Teitz, a first-year starter, is leading the Saskatchewan Roughriders in defensive tackles.
Linebacker Micah Teitz, a first-year starter, is leading the Saskatchewan Roughriders in defensive tackles. Photo by Photo courtesy Saskatchewan Roughriders

MOST OUTSTANDING CANADIAN

Winner : Teitz.

Runners-up : Kian Schaffer-Baker, Brett Lauther, Brayden Lenius, Clark.

Rationale : The Riders were looking for someone to step up as the weak-side linebacker with the departure of Cameron Judge to the Toronto Argonauts. Teitz has stepped up in his CFL season . He leads the Riders with 43 defensive tackles, including four for losses. He has two sacks and seven special-teams tackles. Schaffer-Baker is also in the running for outstanding Canadian, but he is a lock for most outstanding rookie, so the Canadian honour goes to Teitz.

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Brett Lauther (right) has connected on 13 consecutive field goals with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Brett Lauther (right) has connected on 13 consecutive field goals with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

MOST OUTSTANDING SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER

Winner : Lauther.

Runners-up : Jon Ryan, Jamal Morrow, Jake Harty , Godfrey Onyeka.

Rationale : Lauther started the season by connecting on 10 consecutive field goals. He went into a mini-slump, hitting on five of nine field-goal attempts. He has rebounded and has connected on 13 consecutive field goals for an overall success rate of 84.4 per cent. He has also connected on all 13 convert attempts. Jon Ryan has booted some moon shots and is averaging 46.8 yards per punt. At this point of the season, Lauther’s overall consistency earns him the special-teams honours.

Kian Schaffer-Baker’s (89) first CFL touchdown was well worth celebrating.
Kian Schaffer-Baker’s (89) first CFL touchdown was well worth celebrating. Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

MOST OUTSTANDING ROOKIE

Winner : Schaffer-Baker .

Runner-up : Garrett Marino.

Rationale : Schaffer-Baker is second among the Riders’ receivers in yards (427), targets (43) and catches (32). He has scored one touchdown. Schaffer-Baker’s 71-yard reception against the Stampeders on Oct. 2 is the Riders’ longest completion of the 2021 campaign. Marino had three sacks before suffering a knee injury in the Riders’ 33-9 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sept. 11.

mmccormick@postmedia.com

twitter.com/murraylp

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