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The only clue you need as to how well the injury rehab for Travis Lulay is going is the fact his wife Kim can probably put him back on chore duty at their Blaine, Washington home.
“I’m still getting out of them actually; don’t let her know that I’m feeling good enough to maybe start doing that, but it’s time,” the 34-year old QB quipped on locker clean out day.
“She’s picked up a lot of slack. Give my wife Kim a big shout-out because it’s been tough with the three kids and running around and all of that, but Daddy is getting better so I’ll be able to help again.”
Lulay’s offseason mission statement remains the same. He will aim to get healthy as if he were preparing to play a ninth season in orange. If he decides a second major injury comeback in four winters is not in the cards, you might suggest it is up to him what type of role he can fill in the organization.
In his post-game media conference on September 8th after Lulay suffered the sever ligament damage, GM/head coach Wally Buono had this to say:
“I just said ‘I hope you can come on the road next week.’ Because my thing is, if he can’t play for us, he can help us win still. And I want him to understand that we want him to be a part of our team. He is a coach. He might be the life coach for Jonathon. And if he can be the life coach for Jonathon, he can contribute because that is going to help us to win right?”
You have to factor in the timing, but it definitely had the sound of a boss who would have Lulay part of the club in any role he wants.
The pending free agent himself insists he will take it one step at a time.
“I could potentially be ready as early as June. It could be longer than that, it just depends how recovery goes,” Lulay explained.
It is a different type of injury all together, but the fact Lulay faced similar long odds when getting his shoulder fixed before 2015 indicates you simply can’t rule out the chances of seeing him suit up next season.
“In a strange way it’s familiar territory for me mentally, knowing what’s up ahead, what I’m up against and the mental ups and downs that will come with the whole rehab and recovery process,” he said.
“I know what I’m heading into so there is no fear of the unknown as far as that goes. Having been through it, it gives me the proper mindset to recover the right way.”
Many observers look at the instant Lulay went down as the big turning point for 2017. Jonathon Jennings had just been benched following lacklustre team performances in losses against Saskatchewan and Ottawa.
Buono indicated before the bye week that preceded the win over Montreal that Lulay had done enough to be the starter. After all, he almost led the squad to an improbable second half against the REDBLACKS. Always a solid team guy, Lulay won’t point to his injury, as the reason the ship couldn’t stay afloat.
“It was somewhere in that stretch when we got beat big in Saskatchewan. Looking back, it’s easy to say that now. But we lost a bit of confidence and maybe we discovered that we weren’t as bulletproof as we thought we were up to that point, “ he said.
“We couldn’t quite re-gain our tracking for a few weeks and the rest of the season was just really a grind. Even in the games that we played good football we weren’t able to win, and it becomes a habit. We kind of had that mindset early in the year; we knew how to win. How many games were we right there in the fourth quarter, or had leads and gave up leads late?”
The inability to finish some of those games down the stretch will be a big part of the coaches’ post-season break down occurring as we speak.
As for Jennings, he proved as recently as game 17 in Winnipeg he can still get back to the form he had in 2016, when he became just the fourth quarterback in franchise history to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a single season. The 25-year old has a window to explore NFL options, but remains under contract for one more season. The quiet leader will spend a long time dissecting what went on, and how he can get back on the fast track to stardom.
“I’m not worried about that (the NFL) at all,” Jennings stated.
“I’m honestly just ready to be a better version of myself and get back to being a successful quarterback up here in the CFL.”
Having his friend and mentor Lulay in the fold, no matter what capacity they may be, could play a large role in how he bounces back. The veteran brought up a pretty decent example of a current star QB who hit a couple bumps in the road once he became the leader of a franchise.
“Everyone who has ever played the game has been through it. Mike Reilly will probably win the MOP this year. He was 4-14 in his first year as a starter in Edmonton,” Lulay reminded.
“I’ve been there. We started the ‘11 season 0-5. I lost my first three starts in 2010 as a Lion. There is a lot that goes into the quarterback spot. Battling through the tough moments is one of those things that can define you as a person and a player moving forward.”
“There is plenty of quarterbacks that have been through it, “Jennings added.
“Anytime that you’re in a situation like I am, when you’re young and you experience early success, sometimes you have setbacks. I’m not discouraged about anything; I know I have the talent to play. I just have to figure out how to get back to playing successful football.”
“We’re going to use this as motivation to be better and sometimes you just need to take a step back to grow. It’s something I am going to take and use to my advantage,” Jennings said.
Household chores, gym time and study sessions: that will be the main offseason duties for the quarterbacks. And that is no doubt fine by both great men.