2022 CFL BC Lions vs Edmonton
Whoever it was that coined the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ clearly didn’t have Bryan Burnham on their side. As the 5-1-0 BC Lions re-acquaint themselves with the 2-5-0 Edmonton Elks this Saturday, one could certainly question whether this potent Lions offence is in need of any reinforcements.
Nathan Rourke and company currently lead the CFL in many key categories including net offence, points per game and time of possession. It definitely ain’t broke. But the return of Burnham following four weeks on the sidelines with broken ribs and a punctured lung has players and keen observers dreaming about how much better they can still be as they aim to prove they belong in the league’s top tier.
“It’s good to have him back,” said Dominique Rhymes who leads the squad with 491 receiving yards.
“The energy is tremendous. The things he does as a leader for our team and just the player he is on and off the field, just to have him back boosts our offence even that much more. We’re happy to have him back.”
How much will he contribute early on? That remains to be seen although Burnham is clearly anxious to get back out there after a five-week stint that included two separate hospital visits before the workouts really started ramping up in late July. He once again looks right at home.
“It feels great to be back,” said Burnham.
“Being in this game so long, I’ve learned not to take things for granted and sitting there and watching the games on TV or being in the weight room while guys are practising or rehabbing is not fun. Watching these guys out here competing, you want to be a part of it. I’m grateful to be healthy and to be out here running around with the guys again.”
With only six receptions for 66 yards and one touchdown in two contests before going down, you also get the sense he is ready to return to game breaker status. His return should elevate all of them in the receiving corps.
“It can get to greater heights,” added Rhymes.
“I just think we have so much to grow on, look upon and be better at in every aspect of the offence. Each and every week, we’re trying to get better and get to that common goal of being 1-0 each week.”
The last time Edmonton came into town was the June 11 regular season opener where everything seemingly went right for the home side. Nathan Rourke’s versatility, James Butler’s four touchdowns and a ferocious defence were the key cogs in a 59-15 victory.
The Elks squad coming to BC Place this time around will look quite different, including behind centre where quarterback Taylor Cornelius is slated to get his third start of the season. From top to bottom, everyone expects a much tougher test.
“I’ve been watching film on him from last year, we’re watching the past (film) from this year and it’s going to be a great challenge,” explained safety Quincy Mauger.
“It’s going to be another great challenge. Every week is going to be a challenge for us, but at the end of the day, it’s alignment and assignment. Be fast and physical.”
The visitors appear to be getting healthier with wide receiver Derel Walker as well as defensive linemen Jordan Reaves and Jake Ceresna slated to return from their injuries.
BC Lions (5-1-0) at Edmonton Elks (2-5-0)
Saturday, August 6
7:00 pm, BC Place
TV: TSN, ESPN2
Radio: AM730, Lions Audio Network, Sirius XM 167 Canada Talks
Season Series: The Lions prevailed 59-15 over Edmonton in their June 11 season opener. The teams will also meet for a third time in the Alberta capital on Friday, October 21
Three Lions To Watch
#16- WR- Bryan Burnham– re-inserting number 16 into this stacked offence can only mean great things. Of note, Burnham is just nine yards shy of ‘Swervyn’ Mervyn Fernandez for fourth spot on the club’s all-time receiving list.
#4 WR- Keon Hatcher– Burnham’s return to the slot means Hatcher slides back over to the ‘Z’ wide receiver position. The improved Hatcher can be even more dynamic in his original place on the depth chart.
#49- DL- Tibo Debaillie– the native of Belgium native picked up his first sack of the season last week and has played a solid role on this improved defensive line. It appears as though the organization has found its Global impact player.
Burnham’s return to the lineup means linebacker Omar Fortt moves back to the practice roster. That will be the lone change for the active roster this week.
More on those Elks roster changes: heading into this week, they had used 75 different players. By comparison, the Lions have used only 52.
We have spoken at length in our game recaps about the Lions dominating time of possession. Rourke and company lead the CFL in that category at 32:03 per game. 2012 was the last time the Lions led in time of possession over a full season.
Of his six victories as a CFL starting quarterback, Edmonton is the only team Rourke has defeated twice. In those two victories, he has completed 49 of 63 passes (77.8 %) for 641 yards while throwing for six touchdowns and rushing for five more on his own.
Rourke is also on pace to break the CFL completion percentage mark set by Rick Ray (77.2 percent) in 2013. Rourke entered this week with a percentage of 79.3.
The Lions have faced four different starting quarterbacks in their last four meetings with Edmonton:
October 12, 2019: Logan Kilgore
August 19, 2021: Trevor Harris
November 12, 2021: Taylor Cornelius (Dakota Prukop would come in and play a majority of the snaps)
June 11, 2022: Nik Arbuckle