De­spite the rust, in Lu­lay the Lions trust

B.C. de­motes Jen­nings, hands start­ing QB job to vet­eran back from surgery

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - SPORTS - STEVE EWEN sewen@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/SteveEwen

VAN­COU­VER Travis Lu­lay ad­mits he might be a lit­tle rusty tonight and insists he’s not overly wor­ried about it.

The B.C. Lions did the ex­pected on Fri­day, nam­ing Lu­lay as their start­ing quar­ter­back for tonight’s CFL clash at B.C. Place Sta­dium against the Win­nipeg Blue Bombers. He takes over the No. 1 job from Jonathon Jen­nings, who has strug­gled the last two weeks.

Lu­lay hasn’t played since suf­fer­ing a right knee in­jury last Septem­ber that ended his sea­son and re­quired surgery.

The Lions (1-2) cer­tainly could use a boost right now af­ter be­ing blown out their last two road games, in­clud­ing a 41-19 de­ci­sion a week ago against the Blue Bombers (2-2).

Lu­lay said he might be rusty. “I’m hu­man and I’m not go­ing to hide from that,” Lu­lay, 34, said. “I’m not as con­cerned about that, just in terms of my men­tal prep. I just ac­cept part of that.

“If you miss a throw here or there, you just keep play­ing. Those type of things hap­pen. I might miss a read. I might throw a ball right to (Win­nipeg safety Tay­lor) Lof­fler’s face mask or some­thing.

“If I stay con­fi­dent about it and keep throw­ing the ball, I’ll put our team in a po­si­tion to win. That’s my mind­set. I’m try­ing to ooze that con­fi­dence to the group and play with that my­self. I think that can make up for a lit­tle bit of rust.”

Lu­lay hasn’t taken many snaps in prac­tice this sea­son, but said he “feels com­fort­able.” He ad­mits he’s “draw­ing on ex­pe­ri­ence.”

He’ll be mak­ing his 131st ap­pear­ance for the Lions and his 70th start.

For those keep­ing score at home, the Lions are 25-9 all-time at B.C. Place when Lu­lay plays.

“I felt com­fort­able in the pocket all week,” said Lu­lay, the CFL’s 2011 Most Out­stand­ing Player and Grey Cup MVP. “I’m com­fort­able throw­ing the foot­ball, I feel good about my eyes. Now that the knee has caught up, I feel ready to roll.

“My func­tion is 100 per cent. I’m do­ing ev­ery­thing at prac­tice. You wouldn’t no­tice if you didn’t know my his­tory. If you were watch­ing the tape, you wouldn’t know. That’s what I needed to see on film.

“A month ago, there was still maybe a hitch in my gait when I’m run­ning.”

Lions coach Wally Buono strongly hinted a change was coming, but re­fused to admit he was send­ing Jen­nings, 25, to the bench.

Lu­lay said the Lions were just “stay­ing dis­ci­plined to the process.

“We talked about it three weeks ago: every week we’re go­ing to re­assess,” said Lu­lay. “Talk­ing to or­tho­pe­dic sur­geons, you would rein­tro­duce a guy in bas­ket­ball or soc­cer at re­duced min­utes. That’s not a re­al­ity in foot­ball. We bridged that gap dur­ing the prac­tice week do­ing ex­tra con­di­tion­ing, func­tional drills to stim­u­late be­ing ready for a game.

“This week we were just true to the process and said that we would sit down and talk about it. I didn’t get ahead of my­self. I had a cou­ple of good days of work. At the end of it, I said, ‘Do you guys see any­thing? Be­cause I feel good. If It looks good on film, let’s do this.’”

For his part, B.C. run­ning back Jeremiah John­son main­tained the team wasn’t fo­cused on the quar­ter­back change. He ad­mit­ted they need bet­ter per­for­mances across the board.

“We need to re­pay these guys,” he said of the Blue Bombers. “We went to their house and they showed us nasty hospi­tal­ity. We have to re­turn the favour and show it in great fash­ion.”

The Lions were 3-1 with Lu­layas their starter last sea­son, and they were 4-10 with Jen­nings.

FRAN­CIS GE­OR­GIA

Vet­eran B.C. pivot Travis Lu­lay will start his first game since last Septem­ber when the Lions host the Blue Bombers tonight in Van­cou­ver. The Lions lost to the Bombers 41-19 a week ago in Win­nipeg.

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