August 12, 2019

News and Notes | Lemon Drops Returns

Shawn Lemon (9) of the BC Lions in the locker room before the Eastern semi-final game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, ON on Sunday, November 11, 2018. (Photo: Johany Jutras / CFL)

Hamilton, ON- Shawn Lemon was planning to attend WWE Monday Night Raw at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena. Those plans were body-slammed early in the morning and it was then a quick trip down the QEW to McMaster University where his new/old BC Lions teammates were practising as part of their layover in Hamilton before Thursday night’s visit to Winnipeg. Having never lost his sense of humour, the Lemonator reminded everyone there are pros and cons to everything in life.

“I gotta trade my Monday Night Raw in to be roommates with this guy,” joked Lemon while pointing to his friend Odell Willis.

Re-acquired on Monday morning from Toronto in exchange for defensive tackle Davon Coleman and a conditional eighth-round draft pick, Lemon will be expected to do pretty much the same thing he did last year as a mid-season addition: bring some much-needed help to a Lions defence that has failed to register a sack in the last three games and recorded a CFL-low seven QB takedowns this season.

Yet if there is one thing vastly different than the situation he came into in 2018, its familiarity. Lemon was with DeVone Claybrooks and Rich Stubler as part of the 2014 Grey Cup champion Calgary team when those two served as defensive line coach and defensive coordinator respectively. He can’t wait to get rolling with his crew.

“I’m thrilled to be back in BC and with coach Claybrooks,” he said.

“He was the guy that groomed me up when I first came into the league. In the two seasons I played with coach Stubler, I believe I had like 28 sacks those two seasons. So I’m excited to be back with the guys that helped me get to this point.”

Lemon made an immediate impact in his first go-around here. After arriving in a trade on July 24th, he recorded ten sacks in 13 games for a Lions squad that went 6-3 after Labour Day and earned a spot in the postseason. That journey to a playoff spot might be a taller task this time around, yet Lemon was quick to stress the fact this team should not be counted out despite a 1-7 record as the first half of their season comes to an end.

“(It’s) a team that’s very very close, man,” said Lemon.

“Just got to find a way to get over the hump. Like I said, look across the whole league; the whole league, there is no team that is running away from everything right now. Everybody is a few plays away from getting those wins. I just want to come in and be a big piece to help out. You’ve just got to learn from the things you did good and learn from the things you did bad last week.”

When he first walked up to Claybrooks upon arrival at Ron Joyce stadium, it was as if the two had never spent any time apart. The head coach can’t wait to see him suit up against the Blue Bombers.

“He’s a proven pass rusher in this league and everybody knows that’s one of the areas of deficiency that we’re trying to improve on and I think he makes us better,” said Claybrooks.

“He’s been in our system, he knows Stubes, he knows me and he knows the system and he understands the standard of what we’re trying to establish here and the foundation because he’s been a part of championship teams and has that championship pedigree. We’re excited to have him.”

Lemon may have only one sack in four games this season, but he is more than confident that production will improve now that he’s back in orange.

“Most definitely, man. I always know that everything happens for a reason. My whole life, my whole career has been that way so I’m very confident in the things that I can do still. I have a little bit more freedom in this defence, pass rush wise. I think I can come in and make an immediate impact.”

In his heart, he always wanted to be reunited with Willis, even if it came at the cost of his wrestling tickets.

“The other 9/11 was a little generic,” joked Lemon.

“I’m just playing though. Davon Coleman is a good friend of ours, he’s a good guy. He’s landed in a good spot for him and I’m happy to see him get an opportunity over there.”

Day 1 at McMaster: Reilly Ready To Roll

The number one burning question that was lingering from the loss in Hamilton was answered fairly quickly on Monday. Quarterback Mike Reilly was a full participant in practice after injuring his right ankle late in Saturday’s tilt with the Tiger-Cats. Although the situation will continue to be monitored between now and Thursday, all expectations are Reilly will be behind centre when the Lions invade Winnipeg.

“I feel fine. It’s a short week so you never feel great on day one, just from all the bumps and bruises from the previous game,” said the quarterback.

“We’re less than 48 hours from that game being played so I think everybody out here was feeling it a little bit from the long road trip, staying back east and being so fresh off a game, but outside of that, just wear and tear on the body, I feel pretty good.”

Claybrooks admitted he was mildly shocked at how quickly the starting quarterback was moving around even compared to Sunday when he spent most of the day with head athletic therapist Tristan Sandhu.

“I told you, he’s a soldier and he’s a trooper,” Claybrooks said in a response to Ed Willes from the Vancouver Sun and Province.

“We talked about it earlier; he’d been getting treatment. He’s been living in Tristan’s room. I think Tristan didn’t get any personal, one-on-one time alone. He can’t even get a text message from his wife without Mike being there. Like I said, Mike’s a warrior and he worked hard to get his rehab. When I seen him barely get out of bed, I was like ‘oh my God.” Then like three hours later he was like, ‘I’m ready, coach.’ Thank God he’s got that cheetah blood or something in the system.”

Maybe this all means some good karma is headed the Lions’ way.

Matt Baker: