July 24th, 2024

Lions quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. expected to start against Elks

By Jim Morris, The Canadian Press on June 26, 2024.

Head coach Rich Campbell was confident Vernon Adams Jr. will start against the Edmonton Eskimos, but the B.C. Lions quarterback was a little more guarded about his health. Adams (3) throws during second half CFL action against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Winnipeg, Friday, June 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

VANCOUVER – Head coach Rich Campbell was confident Vernon Adams Jr. will start against the Edmonton Eskimos, but the B.C. Lions quarterback was a little more guarded about his health.

Adams practiced Monday, but missed Tuesday’s workout with an abdominal injury. At the time his status was listed as questionable for when the Lions (2-1) face the Elks (0-3) Thursday at BC Place Stadium to open Week 4 of the CFL season.

“He’s good,” Campbell said after the Lions walk-through Wednesday. “He came in this morning feeling better. He seems good to go.

“He’s been playing awesome for us. We’re obviously happy that VA is ready to go.”

Adams, who is listed as the starter on the Lions depth chart, was more cautious.

“I feel good today,” he said. “I woke up feeling better.

“We’re going to see how we feel tomorrow.”

The 31-year-old, who is in his second season as the Lions starter, said he woke up Tuesday feeling a strain in his lower abdomen. After sitting out Tuesday he took all the reps during Wednesday’s short practice and his movements didn’t seem to be hindered.

“We’ll see when I wake up tomorrow but feeling better today,” he said.

After three games this season Adams has completed 63-of-95 passes for a CFL-leading 1,038 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception.

Former Saskatchewan Roughrider Jake Dolegala is Adams’ backup.

One player expecting to see some extra attention from the Elks is Lions wide receiver Alexander Hollins.

Hollins scorched the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for 215 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches in a nail-biting 26-24 victory last week.

“Attention? I love attention,” said the six-foot, 175-pound speedster from Yazoo City, Miss.

Hollins grabbed everyone’s attention when he hauled in a 71-yard touchdown pass from Adams on BC’s fourth offensive play of the game against Winnipeg. He later caught a 29-yeard touchdown.

A big play early fires up both the offence and defence, said Hollins.

“It helps a lot,” he said. “It makes the defence work even harder to try to get the ball back.

“Everything is just high energy, cheering each other on, working hard. The more big plays everyone is making, the more plans we want to make as a unit.”

After being named the CFL’s top receiver for Week 3, Hollins was asked if he could rake in even more yards against the winless Elks.

“It’s not a goal of mine to try to get a certain amount,” he said. “I just try to get open, catch the ball, get first downs, make plays for the team.”

Adams said Hollins has the ability to be where he’s most needed.

“He’s being him, the playmaker he is,” said Adams. “When the ball finds him, he’s going to make a play.”

Hollins leads the league with 402 yards and three touchdowns on 23 catches. Teammate Justin McInnis is third with 17 catches for 340 yards and two touchdowns.

Running back William Stanback, who signed with the Lions this winter after helping the Montreal Alouettes win the Grey Cup last year, is the league’s top rusher with 187 yards on 42 carries.

It’s a quick turnaround for the Elks, who are coming off a heart-breaking 39-36 loss against the Argonauts in Toronto Saturday. It was the second time in two weeks Edmonton lost by three points.

“It’s not like we’ve played poor football,” said Chris Jones, Edmonton’s head coach and general manager. “We’ve unfortunately lost three games and it comes down to that one or two plays that we’ve got to learn to make.

“When we do, we’re going to have a lot of success.”

Campbell said the Elks are a better than then their record.

“They are a good team,” he said. “They have good players. We’re not getting caught up in their record. We expect it will be a close game again.”

The Lions will also be without Canadian linebacker Ben Hladik, who has a thumb injury. Hladik, who leads the CFL with 25 tackles, will be replaced by Bo Lokombo.

EDMONTON ESKIMOS (0-3) at BC Lions (2-1)

Thursday, B.C. Place

LUCKY 13: Hollins was the first Lion since Nick Moore in 2017 to have over 200 receiving yards in a game. Tyon Gray holds the franchise record for most receiving yards in a game with 270 set in 1981. Hollins’ 215 yards is the 13th highest in Lions history.

ON THE ROAD: After Thursday, the Lions will play one home game over the next eight weeks. They play in Hamilton July 7, return home for a July 13 game against Saskatchewan, then travel to Calgary July 21, Winnipeg Aug. 1 and Edmonton Aug. 11 before hosting the Bombers Aug. 18.

GOING DEEP: Heading into Week 4 Adams leads the CFL in completing 14 of 29 passes for 20 or more yards, for a league-high 499 yards and five touchdowns.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2024.

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