SURREY, B.C. — The B.C. Lions are giving young quarterbacks a chance — but not by choice.
John Beck’s pectoral-muscle injury, suffered Friday night in a loss to the Calgary Stampeders, has added a new chapter to the B.C. quarterbacking woes, leaving the struggling Lions with three rookie signal-callers as they pursue a playoff spot.
Head coach Jeff Tedford said Saturday that Beck’s pectoral muscle was pulled or torn, but the full extent of the injury is unknown.
“Even without knowing the prognosis or what they say about the length of time, it doesn’t look good,” said Tedford.
Beck, a 34-year-old former NFL journeyman who overcame viral hepatitis that sidelined him in training camp and pre-season, was injured on a hit by Stampeders defensive end Freddie Bishop while he was attempting a pass. The Lions QB was only making his second CFL start after No. 1 Travis Lulay suffered a knee injury in Montreal two weeks ago. Lulay’s latest injury came after his missed most of 2014 due to a re-injured shoulder.
Tedford expects Beck to be out for a lengthy period of time after Saskatchewan quarterback Kevin Glenn was sidelined from July 26 until this weekend with a torn pectoral muscle.
“(Beck) doesn’t need surgery or anything like that, but it was pretty painful and, obviously, significant,” said Tedford.
Beck’s injury means that Jonathon Jennings, a 23-year-old Columbus, Ohio native who replaced him Friday, will make his first CFL start next weekend against the Eskimos in Edmonton. Jennings, a former Saginaw Valley State standout, is tasked with helping the Lions (4-7) earn a playoff spot with seven games left in the regular season.
“It’s tough, but at the same time that’s what we (backup quarterbacks) are here to do,” said Jennings. “Whatever I can do to help, I’m gonna do that.”
Jennings helped the Lions come back to tie the Stampeders 21-21 before the hosts scored two more touchdowns and surrendered a safety. The Lions’ only touchdowns came on 103-yard punt and kick-off returns by Chris Rainey.
Jennings completed 15 of 26 passes for 251 yards, but was intercepted three times and botched a hand-off to Andrew Harris that caused a fumble that led to a critical turnover.
The young quarterback is looking to get more comfortable with the first-team offence in games. Tedford is confident that Jennings will, based on his considerable action in practice due to Beck’s pre-season illness and Lulay’s injury.
“It’s not like he’s been on a shelf somewhere,” said Tedford.
Greg McGhee, a 22-year-old Pittsburgh native who starred at Howard University, becomes the new No. 2. His lone offensive play this season was a touchdown plunge against Ottawa on Sept. 13.
R.J. Archer, a recent Seattle Seahawks cut, will come off the practice roster and assume the No. 3 role. Tedford said the battle for No. 2 is not even close.
“Archer’s been here a week, so McGhee is definitely our backup,” said Tedford. “But we definitely have to increase the learning curve now for Archer because if something else happens, he’s the backup.”
Lulay remains on the six-game injured list, with four games to go. Tedford said Lulay “has come along nicely,” but his status is still week-to-week.
Monte Stewart, The Canadian Press