The hospital ward that passes for the B.C. Lions practice field was predictably full of new faces as a result of the injury carnage suffered in their dispiriting loss against the Calgary Stampeders.
It’s a measure of how Wally Buono operates, however, that even in an abbreviated practice week where logic might suggest he would limit changes to replacing the ailing he’s still about to make three other performance-related moves for Thursday’s game against the Montreal Alouettes.
You might want to keep a roster sheet handy for this one. Add up the number of changes through injury and performance and there could be seven new faces against Kevin Glenn and his Montreal mates.
Buono made no secret of his disdain when the practice week began Sunday towards the work of left guard Hunter Steward, who took a late penalty that was among several that proved to be critical in the Lions downfall in the 44-41 overtime loss. However, on Monday it was Jeremiah Johnson not Anthony Allen at tailback. Loucheiz Purifoy was at safety replacing Eric Fraser, who was replacing Mike Edem.
More? Anthony Thompson was replacing Purifoy and Anthony Gaitor was replacing Brandon Stewart. The defensive line included Bryant Turner replacing Mich’ael Brooks as expected, and rookie Andrew Hudson’s ability to come off the edge made him the logical replacement for Craig Roh.
But with so many changes it might have been a week for the Lions to minimize the churn of personnel. That’s just not how Buono rolls though. Allen may have been the victim of shoddy run blocking against Calgary, but as of now it’s Johnson who’ll get the ball again.
“That was the whole idea why we kept both (tailbacks),” Buono explained, noting that Allen was also injured down the stretch against the Stamps. “They’ll play awhile, then they’ll change.”
And as for the idea that too much change isn’t a good thing, Buono scoffed at that as well.
“The new players are fresh. Montreal is playing three times in 11 days,” he said. “It’s not like our new guys are holding us back. These guys are going to be maybe better than what we have.”
Indeed, the Lions’ depth this year is better than many of the recent past, but there’s a limit as to what most teams are capable of withstanding and Thursday’s stress test may or may not prove to be the case.
Add the season-ending injuries to T.J. Lee and Nick Moore to what happened Friday, plus the fact RT Levy Adcock has still yet to suit up and you have already 11 projected starters either out or in different positions from the lineup the Lions wanted to field opening day. The new logo for this team might be the one used by the Red Cross.
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