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TORONTO — The long, tedious repetition of daily stretching movements, strengthening exercises, along with icing and heating routines was worth it for Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant.

The star pivot feels ready to return to the gridiron after his surgically repaired right arm passed a big test at a team mini-camp this month in Bradenton, Fla.

“It felt great being able to test it out, just to make sure I was able to make all the throws necessary to be successful,” Durant said Wednesday. “I kind of worried a little bit once I got hurt because the elbow is such a fragile joint. But once I was able to get out there and test it out and see that everything was good without any swelling, that let me know that everything was good to go.”

Durant suffered a torn tendon in the elbow of his throwing arm last September, ending his CFL season. The Riders sputtered after he went down with youngsters Tino Sunseri and Seth Doege spending time under centre.

The team even lured aging quarterback Kerry Joseph out of retirement for the stretch drive. Saskatchewan settled for a third-place finish in the West and dropped the division semifinal to Edmonton.

“I’m just hungry,” Durant said. “When you miss that amount of time and the season goes downhill like it did — we were sitting at 8-2 — once the season went downhill it was very frustrating. This off-season has just been like, ‘Hurry up man.’ I’ve been training harder than ever.

“I think a lot of people around the league forgot about me. I’m anxious to go out there and prove the doubters wrong and show Rider Nation that I can still get the job done.”

The Riders were brimming with confidence at the start of the 2014 season after winning the Grey Cup on their own field the previous fall.

That 8-2 start last season was soon followed by a five-game losing skid en route to a 10-8 finish. Durant returned to the practice field late in the season but Joseph started the last three games and the 18-10 playoff loss to Edmonton.

The Riders will have a top-flight backup on board this season after signing veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn last February. He started 17 regular-season games last year with the B.C. Lions and was the league’s second-leading passer with 3,918 yards and 17 TD passes.

“I think we’ll work great together first and foremost,” Durant said. “He’s the consummate pro, he’s been around a long time. He’ll definitely help me out with some things that I may have never seen before.

“I think the organization is loading up, man. We have to do what we have to do in order to win. Just like last year, you never know when injuries may come up and he’s definitely a great security blanket if something happens.”

The Riders also signed defensive linemen John Chick and Tearrius George to contract extensions this off-season and added free-agent offensive lineman Gord Hinse. Saskatchewan will open the 2015 regular season on June 27 at home against Winnipeg.

Durant was joined by teammate Rob Bagg and other CFL players at a northwest Toronto school Wednesday for a Reebok initiative called BOKS, a class designed to improve children’s academic performance and health through physical activity and nutritional knowledge.


Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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