July 20th, 2024

Vernon Adams Jr. shrugs off injury concerns ahead of Stampeders tilt

By Nick Wells, The Canadian Press on October 19, 2023.

B.C. Lions quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (3) throws on the run during CFL football game action against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Hamilton, Ont. on Friday, October 13, 2023. Despite the odds stacked against them, the Lions are aiming for finishing top of the CFL's Western Division. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

SURREY, B.C. – Despite the odds stacked against them, the B.C. Lions are aiming for finishing top of the CFL’s Western Division.

The road to that is complicated. A B.C. loss Friday night to Calgary (5-11) or Winnipeg win Saturday over the Edmonton Elks would give the Bombers first in the West. The Lions (12-5) would finish second and host the conference semifinal Nov. 4 against either the Stampeders or Riders.

B.C. also faces the struggle of making sure quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. is fit for the game after he left the 33-30 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week.

The 30-year-old went down late in the fourth quarter of the game, giving way for backup Dane Evans to finish the win.

The game plan so far, says head coach Rick Campbell, is to play their starting quarterback.

“We’re playing to win this game. We want to: one, play well for us; and two, we want to put the ball in Winnipeg’s court to win one more game,” said Campbell.

The focus, Campbell said, is to finish as the best in the West.

“Our regular season ends (Friday night), we’re going to be the first team done the playing the regular season,” he said. “So we talked about let’s get the regular season done and get this thing to 13 wins.”

Adams was questioned about the desire to play, considering the Lions have already qualified for the playoffs, and was adamant he wants to start.

“I want to play, to have those reps and not have those weeks to sit out,” he said.

The Washington state quarterback has thrown for 4,653 yards, 31 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

He’s been bolstered by a receivers corps that has consistently supported him throughout the season.

“He’s our brother,” said receiver Keon Hatcher earlier in the season when asked about the support for Adams.

Adams needs 357 more yards to hit the 5,000 passing yards threshold. The last B.C. Lions quarterback to cross that marker was Jonathon Jennings, who finished with 5,226 in 2016.

“That’d be an awesome accomplishment but the win is most important,” he said.

Campbell also spoke about the potential of Adams being a contender for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player (MOP) award.

“I know he’s my MOP, so I’ll vouch for the guy. He’s been great ever since we got him,” said Campbell, adding that Adams’ performances have been “more than we could have ever hoped.”

But the aim is more on the team’s larger performance, Campbell said.

“To get to 13 wins in a season is pretty special and that’s what we’re gunning for.”

CALGARY STAMPEDERS (5-11) at B.C. LIONS (12-5)

Friday, BC Place Stadium

RECORD SETTERS: With 17 sacks on the year, CFL leader Mathieu Betts has matched the single-season record for Canadians first set by ex-Lion Brent Johnson in 2005. Ben Hladik needs five more defensive tackles to become the first Canadian Lion ever to record 100 in a season.

STREAK ALIVE? The Stamps control their playoff destiny with two more wins or one win and a loss by Saskatchewan on Saturday confirming their playoff status. Head coach Dave Dickenson has been expressing confidence that his team will make it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2023.

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