Travis Lulay drops back to pass and launches a ball down field.
At another training camp with another quarterback, the play might be forgotten before the next snap.
But as the B.C. Lions gathered for their first practice on Sunday morning, it was a further signal that the club’s veteran pivot is ready to put 18 months of shoulder-injury frustration behind him.
“I was pleased with what I was able to do today,” said Lulay. “There wasn’t a throw that I looked at that I couldn’t make on account of my shoulder.
“We’re going to keep a close eye on it.”
As they should.
Lulay has suffered crippling injuries to his throwing shoulder each of the last two seasons. The first was corrected by surgery, but when he finally returned to the lineup last year following a rehabilitation that stretched into September, Lulay re-injured the joint in his only start and again found himself on the sidelines.
The 31-year-old opted against undergoing another procedure and instead chose a rehab program under new head coach Jeff Tedford that included throwing from different angles and falling onto mats.
It’s only the first day of camp, but the Lions were encouraged by what they saw.
“He’s making progress. It’s a process for him,” said Tedford. “He’s worked himself to where he is right now. We’ve just got to keep monitoring. He’ll do more and more, and get stronger and stronger as we go.”
A former Grey Cup MVP, Lulay made a number of different throws during the morning practice, including roll outs to the wide side of the field and deep ins.
“Those are the challenging throws that our league presents and I was able to make them today for the most part,” he said. “A few throws didn’t quite have the intensity that I like, but it’s Day 1. That’s going to happen regardless. It’s getting your feet under you and getting your eyes right.”
Another player back on the field after having the 2014 season cut short by injury was Andrew Harris, the star Canadian running back who suffered a dislocated ankle in September.
Tedford was hoping to ease Harris into camp, but with two other backs down with early injuries the 28-year-old was right in the thick of things.
“It’s good to get that rust knocked off and just get in the motions of cutting and doing things that I haven’t been able to do,” said Harris. “It’s the confidence in situations where you don’t really know how strong (the ankle) is yet.”
Lulay and Harris are among the veterans at camp getting to know Tedford after he replaced the fired Mike Benevides in December. A former head coach at the University of California, Tedford is looking to implement a high-tempo offence, something that Harris welcomed following a sneak peak at April’s minicamp.
“He’s really particular on certain things and really disciplined,” said the Winnipeg native. “He asks a lot of us, but it’s fair. One thing that’s consistent with him is he’s the same with everyone. There’s no favourites. Everyone’s here on a clean slate and we’re all trying to prove ourselves to make this team.”
Lulay said an adjustment period is to be expected, but added that a trust between the coaching staff and the players should develop quickly.
“We’ve got to be willing to embrace doing things a little bit different in a handful of spots, knowing that the end goal is finding ways to win football games,” said Lulay. “We’re all humble enough to realize we don’t have it all figured out … we can take a cue from a leader.”
Notes: Lions quarterback John Beck is not currently with the team because of an undisclosed illness. … Former NFL receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who played for Tedford at Cal, left practice with a suspected broken arm.
– The Canadian Press