June 4, 2014

Morris: Lulay continues long road to recovery

Chris Boyko/BCLions.com


It’s a question Travis Lulay has been asked often recently, but one the B.C. Lions’ quarterback still can’t provide a good answer.

How does Lulay rate the recovery of his surgery repaired right throwing shoulder? Is it 80 per cent, 70 per cent, maybe 60 per cent healthy?

“It’s hard to say,” said Lulay, taking a break from the Lions’ training camp in Kamloops, B.C. “On certain things I can be 100 per cent. In other things I might be 60 per cent.

“I’m not game ready at this point. I can do a lot of what I need to do, but I can’t do everything I need to do.”

The Lions open their exhibition season next Friday in Edmonton. B.C.’s first regular season game is June 28 at home against the Eskimos. Lulay isn’t predicting if he will be ready when the season begins.

“Training camp is going to determine that,” said the 30-year-old native of Salem, Ore. “I think it’s still early to discount it at this point. I know I have to approach training camp the right way for that even to be an opportunity.

“I have been doing tons of work. I know exactly where I am at but training camp, the intensity level is higher. You can’t simulate those snaps until you are out there doing it. It’s going to be a progression. I will start lighter and hopefully I can build. If it continues to improve and continues to heal up . . . before you know it I’m making all the throws I need to make without thinking about it. That’s where we need to get.”

Head coach Mike Benevides acknowledges Lulay remains a work in process but likes what he has seen so far.

“He’s right on track,” said Benevides. “He’s still on that progression.

“We’re still building on that foundation. It’s going to take all of training camp to do that.”

Lulay underwent surgery in November to tighten the ligaments in his right shoulder which was partially dislocated in a Sept. 15 game against Montreal. He missed the final seven regular season games but returned to play in the Lions’ West Division semifinal loss to Saskatchewan. For the season he completed 224 of 347 passes for 2,841 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

It was a long winter of recovery and rehab. For the first several months Lulay couldn’t even pick up his infant daughter or take a carton of milk out of the refrigerator. He took snaps during an April minicamp but limited his throws to 20 yards or less.

With training camp underway Lulay believes he’s made strides but understands being over anxious now can erase a lot of hard work and further delay his recovery.

“Part of this stage of the game for me is being able to manage my own expectations for each day,” he said. “Not get too far ahead of myself or be frustrated if maybe I’m not quite where I want to be on a certain day.

“Mentally that is part of my challenge, my focus for camp. My hope is it continues to progress the way it has and continues to get better.”

Until Lulay gets 100 per cent healthy there’s no use playing him in game situations. There’s always the risk of re-injurying the shoulder. It also isn’t fair to a player, or his team, to ask them to do something that physically they are not capable of doing.

“If I can’t make every throw that a quarterback has to be able to make in this league, then I’m not ready to play,” said Lulay. “I’m really anxious to see how it responds on a day-in, day-out basis.”

Benevides is willing to be patient.

“I’ll keep a close eye on him,” he said. “He’s getting better every single day.

“You know Travis is going to do every single thing he can to get there.”

Lulay is one of four quarterbacks in camp. John Beck is a six-year NFL veteran and Travis Partridge is a 23-year-old rookie who spent two weeks with the Minnesota Vikings last month.

In need of a quarterback with CFL experience, B.C. acquired veteran Kevin Glenn from the Ottawa REDBLACKS with their fifth overall pick in the CFL draft. The 13-year veteran has thrown for more than 39,000 yards and over 200 touchdowns.

“I am really excited to work with Kevin,” said Lulay. “To just have another guy that knows the CFL really well, who has seen every look that you can possibly see in this league, who mentally has been through the ups and downs of the quarterback position.

“He knows how to handle winning, how to handle losing.”

The next few weeks will also be important as the Lions adapt to the new system being introduced by Khari Jones, hired in the offseason as B.C.’s offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach.

So far Jones likes the way things are going.

“To get the whole group out here was a positive thing,” said Jones, who spent the last two years as quarterbacks coach for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. “I thought the guys played hard, made a lot of mistakes and that’s to be expected.”

“Hopefully they get a chance to feel how we will coach the football team.”

Lulay likes the approach Jones has taken in introducing his schemes.

“I don’t think by any means by week one of the regular season we will know everything about each other and the way the play calling goes,” he said. “I think it will continue to go as the season goes on.”

“What I do feel good about is the way Khari has installed the offence. It gives us a really good chance to feel comfortable with what we are doing.”