Lulay knows his role with Lions

VANCOUVER — A career performance by Travis Lulay doesn’t mean the B.C. Lions quarterback is about to start second-guessing his role with the team.

The 33-year-old backup came off the bench to throw for 436 yards and lead the CFL team to a 41-26 road win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Saturday and will remain behind centre Friday when the Lions return home to face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Lulay will remain in the lineup replacing starting pivot Jon Jennings, who was injured on the first B.C. offensive play from scrimmage in Hamilton. Jennings has been diagnosed with a shoulder strain and Lions coach/GM Wally Buono said the club won’t rush him back.

The performance validated the need to have two strong quarterbacks in the pass-happy CFL, but it did not change Lulay’s projected career path. He signed a contract extension prior to the 2016 season knowing Jennings would be groomed as the Lions starter and isn’t about to looking for another team to call his own on the strength of a single solid outing.

Lulay becomes a free agent at the end of the season, when Jennings has an option-window in his contract in which he could explore NFL opportunities. That’s time enough to think about his options.

“I made peace with that decision (to stay) as I was making it. I’m in a good mental state of mind,” Lulay said, who has made nearby Blaine, Wash., his year-round home. “My family is happy here. It’s rewarding to know I’ve made the right decision.

“I have a good rapport with Jon. If it was a weird relationship maybe it would be different. All those things have helped me sleep at night.”

The Lions had a chance to trade Lulay during the off-season when the Saskatchewan Roughriders reportedly inquired about his availability. It turned out to be a good non-move with the injury to Jennings, who says his fellow quarterback is unique.

“He understands the plan is bigger than just him and that portrays on the field. He’s doing everything he can to compete but he’s not worrying about the outside stuff,” Jennings said.

Against Winnipeg, Lulay will make his first meaningful start in a regular season game since Sept. 3, 2015. He started a game in November that year that had no bearing in the standings.

The Lions didn’t make major changes to their offensive scheme when Jennings went down last week and won’t do the same Friday when they play the first of five games against West Division rivals.

“There’s certain things I know Travis has seen before, some things that Jon may not have seen,” said Lions offensive co-ordinator Khari Jones. “As far as game-planning goes we make adjustments once the game starts, but I trust both of them.”

B.C. (3-1) won all three games on a road trip through the East Division for the first time in the 64-year history of the franchise, but struggled to post a 5-5 record against West Division teams last year and dropped its season opener at home to Edmonton.

Winnipeg (2-1) returns to the site of a disappointing loss to B.C. which ended its 2016 season in the West Division semifinal. That’s in the past, according to Bombers tailback Andrew Harris, and so is any animosity when facing his former Lions teammates.

“We had the lead and the Lions came back and stole from us. It definitely was a solid blow. But it’s a new year,” Harris said. “Any time you play a team with familiar faces it’s going to be more of a highlight but the whole hype has gone by now. The novelty has worn off.”

Former Bombers Tony Burnett and Bryant Turner of the Lions are not expected to play to injuries suffered last week against Hamilton. Moe Leggett was placed on the Winnipeg injured list Thursday, joining ailing regulars Kevin Fogg, Bruce Johnson, Ian Wild and Tristan Okpalaugo.

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