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July 9, 2018

Humble Pie | Better Served Now Than Later

Solomon Elimimian tackles Tyrell Sutton of the Montreal Alouettes on June 16th/2018. Photo: Paul Yates.

Solomon Elimimian has been here for some great times. There was the pinnacle that was the 2011 Grey Cup victory, one or two more Novembers that perhaps could have ended in a similar fashion and who can forget all of those individual awards and all-star selections?

Yet part of what defines you as a professional is how you respond when things aren’t quite as rosy. Now would be one of those times.

As Elimimian and the defence try and turn this ship around after two losses and 876 yards allowed by the opposing offence, the 2014 CFL Most Outstanding Player is refusing to roll over.

“I think the biggest thing is everybody faces adversity at some point during the season,” says Elimimian.

“For us, it’s happening now. My thing is let’s respond the way we’re supposed to respond. There is no other way to do that than coming out, working hard and competing. Things will turn.”

Timing is indeed everything. Last year’s squad started the season 5-2 before missing out on an opportunity to all but bury the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the standings in the back half of a home and home series in August.

After that loss, the wheels fell off and they won just two of their remaining ten contests.

Now in his eighth CFL season, Elimimian fully understands that times like these are inevitable. And with a chance to see the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for a second straight week, they have a unique opportunity to prove that last game isn’t what they’re all about.

“There is a bad taste in our mouths from last week,” adds the veteran linebacker. “My thing is we just have to be positive and the good thing about it is we play the same team again right away, so we’re happy about that.”

Lions defensive coordinator Mark Washington speaks with linebacker Solomon Elimimian during a win over Montreal on June 16th/2018. Photo credit: David Friederich.

Returning to the familiar confines of B.C. Place for the first time in four weeks should hopefully give them a shot in the arm as well. In a rare scheduling quirk, their week one home victory over Montreal was followed by the first bye week and those back to back road setbacks. Will a return home do wonders for the struggling offence? Bryan Burnham hopes so.

“Man, it feels good,” says Burnham about staying in the 604 area code this week.

“First of all, not to have to wake up early and get on that plane, but just being able to be in downtown Vancouver, around B.C. Place and in front of our fans definitely feels good.”

As far as the offence goes, they won’t deny they have to be much better than what they’ve shown. Through four weeks, only the Alouettes and Argonauts have scored fewer points while quarterback Jonathon Jennings has failed to hit the 200-yard passing mark in each of his three starts. What makes matters more concerning is the fact they were ahead of the Blue Bombers in time of possession Saturday night, further proof that it has been mostly missed opportunities.

Despite the slow start, the slotback feels the mood insight the facility is about as positive as it can be.

“It’s only been three games,” reminds Burnham.

“When you look at the win column you only see one for us, but almost everybody else in the league (Calgary and Ottawa the lone exceptions) has two losses right now. We’re still in a great position. We’re not worried about last week or two weeks ago, we’re worried about moving forward and winning some football games.”

After watching the film from Saturday, Elimimian is of the mind they are closer than many observers would think.

“We’ve seen about four or five big plays that highlight the fact that we didn’t execute the call that was designed,” says number 56.

“If we had done so, none of those big plays would have occurred. That’s the encouraging part: guys understanding if we do our job, they won’t get what they get. Hats off to Winnipeg. They’re a good team.”

Everyone has their fair share of humble pie. Now is better as opposed to when it started to show up on the menu last year.

Buono Remains Tight-Lipped on Quarterback Question

Following his squad’s rundown and 30-minute on-field workout on Monday, Wally Buono was anticipating the question surrounding Jennings and his immediate status as the Lions’ starting quarterback. The only surprising element was the fact it wasn’t the first question asked in his post-practice media scrum. Never one to jump to conclusions, the CFL’s all-time leader in coaching wins wasn’t yet ready to commit one way or another.

“Well again, at this point I’m not going to say who is going to start at quarterback because that (evaluation) hasn’t been finished and his play has to definitely improve. There are lots of things that have to be improved and obviously, the quarterback is always the focal point,” says Buono.

Whether or not it would be Travis Lulay or Cody Fajardo getting that chance would be the second question. Lulay took part in Monday’s light drills and was then slated to go for a checkup with Team Doctor Bob McCormack.  The metal brace on his knee now gone, it appears the 2011 CFL Most Outstanding Player is getting closer each week.

“We’ll get Doctor McCormack’s assessment and go from there,” adds Buono.

“It’s very important to get what his opinion is and where he should fit into our plans.”

All this being said, it will be interesting to track the quarterback reps in practice starting on Tuesday.

Matt Baker: mbaker@bclions.com