SURREY, B.C. — B.C. Lions quarterback John Beck is gearing up for two different types of pressure in his first CFL start Sunday against the Ottawa Redblacks.
Beck will face pressure to excel in the absence of injured No. 1 Travis Lulay (knee), who was placed on the six-game injured list Friday, and elude a tenacious Redblacks pass rush.
“They’re going to be wanting to run at our guys, so I’m going to have to make some contested throws,” said Beck, a 34-year-old former NFL journeyman who is in his second season with the Lions. “That’s the way they play the game. They’re gonna try to put pressure on the quarterback.”
The Redblacks (5-4) recorded 10 sacks in their previous game as they beat Saskatchewan on Aug. 30 prior to a bye on the Labour Day weekend. Beck’s mobility has been questioned this week, but Lions receiver Austin Collie, who also played with him 11 years ago with the Brigham Young University Cougars, said he is more fleet afoot than people might expect.
“I would appreciate it if people treated me as not mobile,” said Beck. “That way, when I do decide to use my legs, they help out.
“I try to be more back, work from the pocket, understanding that’s where my protection is at, and that anytime you leave that pocket you’re going to leave your protection. I’ve learned throughout my time that you’re better off working from it. But if I do have to make a play with my feet, I make sure that I keep up on that skill and use it at the right time.”
Beck will try to lead the Lions to their second straight win after he came off the sidelines to spur a victory in Montreal last week following Lulay’s injury. Although Beck threw for two first-half touchdowns, he also tossed a pair of interceptions, including one the Als returned for a TD. After penalties hurt drives, he wants the Lions to show more discipline against the Redblacks.
“We had some plays that were made out there that would have gotten more first downs, but they were annulled because of penalties,” said Beck.
While much of the attention will be on Beck, the Lions’ much-maligned defence will also face considerable scrutiny as it attempts to prove that a five-interception performance against Montreal was no fluke.
“We proved that we can make some strides last week, and now is the time to make sure that we exceed those expectations again this week,” said Lions defensive back Ryan Phillips.
The Lions’ defence ranks last in the CFL with an average of 399 total yards allowed per game, having surrendered a league-worst average of 133 yards per game against the run and a second-worst 220.1 yards via the pass. On the other hand, the Redblacks rank second with an average of 289.2 yards per game under quarterback Henry Burris. Phillips said the Lions have to prevent Burris from making big plays.
“(Burris) is a guy that, if he gets chemistry going, he gets continuity going and he gets that rhythm going, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” said Phillips.
Beck can help the defence’s cause by keeping the B.C. offence on the field longer. Linebacker Adam Bighill said the Lions have no problem putting their faith in Beck.
“We saw that he was capable of doing things in the last game, and we’ve got a lot of belief in him,” said Bighill.
Notes: The Lions signed quarterback R. J. Archer, a recent Seattle Seahawks cut, on Friday as insurance after Lulay’s injury and for future development purposes, said coach Jeff Tedford. … Lions receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux said on Twitter he won’t post anything football-related for the balance of this season. The move came after Tedford said he would address critical tweets that Arceneaux made regarding Ottawa’s Jovon Johnson. Arceneaux’s tweet Friday was accompanied by a Twitter logo indicating his account was “shut down.”
Monte Stewart, The Canadian Press