SURREY, B.C. — The B.C. Lions have given quarterback Casey Printers a chance to resurrect his football career where he enjoyed his most success, but also where questions were raised about his character.
Printers, the former CFL most outstanding player, agreed to a practice roster deal with the Lions on Monday. He will be given a chance to show he still has the talent to be one of the league’s most exciting players.
“Hopefully it will be a fun time again,” Printers, 28, said during a telephone conference call. “All I am going to do is come in and be one of the guys (and) work my tail off to prove again I belong.”
Printers threw for over 5,000 yards, 35 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions during his 2004 MVP season. He also ran for 489 yards and nine touchdowns.
Since then, his image has been tarnished by a couple mediocre seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats following a failed NFL attempt.
Off the field, Printers sometimes comes across as arrogant. He has been criticized for being self-serving and unwilling to accept responsibility for his own mistakes.
“I was a young man when I was here the first time in B.C.,” he said. “I’ve gone through a lot of things since. I’ve seen a lot, been around a lot, hurt a lot.
“I have certainly grown from it. It was a great fit the last time. Hopefully I’ll be a good fit this time. I will just work hard at it this time and the team will take precedent over everything.”
Wally Buono, the Lions coach and general manager, signed Printers as insurance for the final weeks of the season.
“We want to make sure we are in the best position as far as depth,” Buono said after practice.
The Lions, currently last in the West with a 5-6 record, are thin at quarterbacks with CFL experience.
Buck Pierce has suffered two concussions this season, and five in the last 11 months. He also was left with sore ribs after Saturday night’s win over the Toronto Argonauts.
Jarious Jackson is out at least a month with an injured rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. CFL rookie Travis Lulay has completed 8-of-11 passes for 109 yards this season.
Buono didn’t want to speculate on when Printers could dress, or even if he will play this season.
“I don’t want to make any speculation on what will occur or what won’t occur,” he said. “The big thing right now for both Casey and for us, is to gather more information.”
Buono dismissed suggestions Printers could be a distraction for a team battling to make the playoffs.
“We all grow up,” he said. “We all learn through our experiences. The thing I have always lived by, is what is in the past, stays there. You start today fresh.
“The issue right now is he’s very willing to assume a practice roster spot which gives him the opportunity to get on the field in a comfortable situation. He’s wants to be here.”
Veteran slotback Geroy Simon welcomed Printers’ return.
“It adds a good player,” said Simon. “We’re happy he’s coming.
“The quarterbacks we have here are very capable, but we are a little banged up so I think he can help.”
Pierce called the signing a “smart move” but said he would have appreciated the players being told before the announcement.
He denied feeling threatened by Printers.
“Am I worried? No,” he said. “I’ve over come lots and I’m happy. I feel good about my abilities and I think everybody else should as well.”
While in B.C., Printers and Lions’ veteran Dave Dickenson became the focus of a controversy over who should start. During the conference call, Printers bristled at suggestions that caused division in the Lions’ locker-room.
“That was back in 2005,” said Printers. “We are fast-forwarding to today.”
Simon, one of the few players left from Printers’ first stint with the Lions, denied any problems.
“He was never a distraction here,” said Simon. “He was always a good player and we were very comfortable with him.”