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September 13, 2017

All eyes remain on Kevin Glenn’s hand

A decision on the state of Kevin Glenn’s right hand is expected to go right down to the wire.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders still weren’t sure Wednesday if their veteran quarterback will start Friday’s CFL game against the host Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In fact, a decision may not be made until just before kickoff.

“We’re day to day and we’ll see exactly where he’s at tomorrow,” Roughriders head coach-GM Chris Jones said after Wednesday’s practice. “We know where he’s at right now and we’ll see where he’s at tomorrow.”

Jones then was asked if Glenn would play if the game was being played Wednesday.

“We would see,” Jones replied. “I think it’d be nip and tuck. If it was game day, I think he’d be trying to talk me into letting him play.”

Glenn injured his right (throwing) hand in Saturday’s 48-28 loss to the hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers. While following through on a pass attempt midway through the third quarter, Glenn smacked the hand on Bombers defensive lineman Cory Johnson.

“I was kind of worried,” said Glenn, who spoke with the media Wednesday for the first time since suffering the injury. “You never know what happens, but when you feel a certain kind of way at that particular time, stuff starts to go through your head.”

Subsequent X-rays didn’t detect any broken bones, but Glenn had to deal with swelling in the hand. He didn’t throw any passes during Monday’s open practice and Jones said Glenn didn’t throw in Tuesday’s closed practice, either.

He tossed a few short passes Wednesday, but none in team sessions. Backups Brandon Bridge, Vernon Adams Jr., and Marquise Williams handled all of the passing, with Bridge getting the bulk of the repetitions with the starting offence.

For Glenn, the biggest issue caused by the injury pertains to his grip.

“It’s more so day by day the strength and actually being able to hold onto the ball,” he said. “You want to make sure that it’s all the way there before you make that decision and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to go.’ ”

Glenn has started all 10 of Saskatchewan’s games this season, completing 241 of 343 pass attempts for 3,057 yards with 21 touchdowns. The Roughriders take a 5-5-0 record into Friday’s game against the 2-8-0 Tiger-Cats.

Bridge has appeared in six games, with 13 completions in 20 attempts for 203 yards with three TDs. Much of his playing time has come in mop-up duty, but he did have to take over for Glenn in Winnipeg.

Glenn noted that he won’t push himself to play Friday if his hand remains an issue, mainly because of the faith he has in Bridge.

“If it so happens that I can’t go, I have confidence in Brandon that he’s going to get the job done,” Glenn said. “It’s not like I pressure myself or anybody is pressuring me. It’s just one of those things where it’s a day-to-day situation so we’re going to have to sit and wait.”

Bridge has been doing just that since joining the Roughriders in August of 2016.

The 25-year-old product of Toronto was a backup with the Montreal Alouettes before they released him. In Saskatchewan, he landed behind Darian Durant on the Roughriders’ depth chart.

Bridge hoped to get a shot at the Roughriders’ starting job this season, but the coaches opted to go with Glenn. Now, if the veteran pivot can’t go Friday, Bridge will get his first regular-season start with the Roughriders.

“I’m feeling really confident,” he said. “We have a good game plan and I think we executed pretty well (in practice) this week. I’m ready to show the coaches what we can do and get this win.”

Bridge was 4-for-8 passing for 67 yards with one interception in Winnipeg. He rushed for a 10-yard touchdown and then threw a pass to Caleb Holley for the two-point convert.

Bridge expects to face ramped-up pressure from the Hamilton defence if he plays — a tactic employed by all of the teams he has faced this season — but he plans to stay within the game plan.

“I don’t have to be Superman; I’ve just got to manage the game,” he said. “I don’t have to make outstanding plays. I just have to do what is asked of me and get the ball into the playmakers’ hands.”

But the hand on which everyone is focused belongs to Glenn. It has kept him from practising this week, but it likely won’t hinder his chemistry with the offence in Friday’s game — if he plays, that is.

“It’s always good to have that rapport with the guys, but I think I’ve played enough games with the guys to understand what they’re doing,” Glenn said. “As you guys (in the media) saw in practice, I’m always in the huddle and the meetings, understanding what we need to do and what we need to accomplish.

“Even on the plays I’m not in, I’m still taking mental reps behind it and actually going to the place that I need to go with the ball. As for the physical part, it has been 17 years. I know how to throw a football.”