VANCOUVER — Casey Printers is expected to start at quarterback as the B.C. Lions visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday in a game that has strong CFL playoff implications.
Printers took most of the first-unit snaps from centre Wednesday as the Lions (8-7) prepared to meet the Roughriders (8-6-1). The 2005 Most Outstanding Player will likely get the nod because he is the healthiest quarterback with considerable CFL experience during a week in which the Lions only practice twice before flying to Regina.
“If I have to go, then that’s what has to happen for the team, and that’s what’s going to happen,” said Printers, who has been displaying a less-selfish appearance after he was often criticized as a me-first player during his first stint with the team.
Travis Lulay, who came off the bench to guide B.C. to a comeback 24-21 victory over Winnipeg on Sunday, and starter Buck Pierce are both recuperating from similar shoulder injuries sustained in that game.
Lulay worked out Wednesday but his activity was limited mostly to hand-offs and a few throws, while Pierce still had his arm in a sling and did not practise. Zac Champion, a second-year pro with limited CFL experience, is expected to serve as the third-stringer while Jarious Jackson, the starter at the beginning of the season, did practise but is not fully recuperated from a rotator cuff injury.
General manager and head coach Wally Buono would not tip his hand officially on Saturday’s starter, but said coaches are confident in Printers, who was without a team for most of this season.
He was released by Hamilton following the 2008 campaign and signed as a free agent with B.C. after the two main quarterbacks, Pierce and Jackson, ran into injury trouble. Buono said Printers, who left the Lions for Kansas City after the 2005 season and signed with Hamilton upon his return to Canada last year, is still well versed in the Lions’ playbook.
“Your memory doesn’t forget,” said Buono. “Right now, he’s picking up the signals well.”
Saturday’s game has strong home-field playoff implications as the Riders are tied for first place in the West Division with Calgary following their 44-44 tie with the Stampeders last weekend. The Lions are only a point back and would host a post-season game by finishing either first or second.
Buono said Printers has absorbed enough of what he has to learn in his second stint with the Lions.
“I’m saying yes because, from what I see in practice, his eyes are good, his reads are good,” said Buono.
“He hasn’t played all year, so the speed of the game is going to be a factor. Do I have concerns? You always have concerns, but I have confidence that Casey’s been to the mill once before.”
Despite a more laid-back appearance, Printers said he is still as passionate as ever. But, saying he is adopting a different approach with the media, he would not bite when asked how hungry he is to play after initially joining the team’s practice roster.
“I’m just staying prepared for if and when the time comes,” said Printers.