VANCOUVER – Travis Lulay says he enjoyed getting knocked down.
That’s not something usually uttered by a quarterback, but getting some contact was critical for the B.C. Lions’ veteran pivot after two seasons marred by injuries to his throwing shoulder.
Lulay was solid in his first live action in more than nine months on Friday as the Lions dropped an 18-13 decision to the Edmonton Eskimos in CFL exhibition play.
“In a weird way it felt good to get hit,” said Lulay, who went down on the second play from scrimmage and bounced right back up. “That’s always kind of the question mark and the final test is doing it with live, moving parts and just reacting when you’re not thinking about it.”
Lulay hooked up with Manny Arceneaux for a 22-yard touchdown pass on the game’s first series and finished 8-of-13 for 121 yards in two quarters of work before taking a seat at halftime.
“Travis was sharp in his first series,” said Lions head coach Jeff Tedford. “I thought as the first half went on you could see a little rust there, just missing a couple guys. Those are things we can clean up, no doubt about it.”
Lulay was 3-for-3 on the scoring drive and linked up with Austin Collie on two long passes later in the half, but also missed a few makeable throws, including one over the middle to a wide-open Brian Burnham.
“We’re ironing out some kinks,” said Lulay. “There were one or two throws tonight where it was just us not being on the same page.”
With backup quarterback John Beck still out with an illness, rookies Jonathan Jennings and Greg McGhee split time in the second half for the Lions. Richie Leone, who is competing with Anthony Fera for the kicking job after B.C. cut veteran Paul McCallum five days into training camp, missed field-goal attempts of 38 and 44 yards before making one from 24 yards. Fera made his only try from 48 yards.
On the Edmonton side, James Franklin threw a touchdown to Kenny Stafford, while Grant Shaw connected on 3 of 7 field-goal attempts, with two of the misses going for single points. Starting quarterback Mike Reilly played the first two series before sitting out the rest of the game.
The Eskimos open their regular season on June 27 in Fort McMurray, Alta., against the Toronto Argonauts, while the Lions have a bye in Week 1 before kicking off their schedule on the road in Ottawa against the Redblacks on July 4.
Friday’s game was played in front of 6,117 fans at the University of British Columbia because B.C. Place Stadium is being used by the FIFA Women’s World Cup until early July.
Lulay initially injured his right shoulder in September 2013 on a goal-line plunge, but eventually made it back in the lineup and started the Lions’ playoff loss that year.
He underwent off-season surgery in hopes of being ready for the 2014 campaign, however, the recovery took longer than expected and he re-injured the same joint in his only start last season a rain-soaked affair in Ottawa in September while reaching for a fumble.
Lulay elected against a second procedure in favour of a rehabilitation program that included purposely falling on mats and throwing the ball on the run and from different angles. He took part in an April throwing session and was a full participant at training camp, but sat out the Lions’ first pre-season game last week in Calgary.
“I didn’t shy away instinctively from making a play with my feet,” Lulay said of Friday’s performance. “To get knocked down and get back up again and get back in the huddle felt good.”