Lions already eyeballing Jennings’ successor

It’s no secret the B.C. Lions see Jon Jennings as the heir apparent at starting quarterback to Travis Lulay, regardless of whether there’s a contract extension. But who might be the next Jennings?

If you respond with Vernon Adams (above), you’ve been paying attention over the years and for the first time Tuesday, the Lions formally admitted the same thing. Coach/GM Wally Buono said the smallish pivot from the University of Oregon, who has been on the team’s negotiation list for the better part of three years, is the subject of increased interest now that the NFL draft is over and the unclaimed Adams is into the last-chance phase with upcoming workouts with the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins.

At 5’11” and 200 pounds, Adams has long been seen as a player with the right CFL skill set and if there’s no further NFL interest, the Lions will extend a contract offer, having already made it clear to the 23-year-old and his agent of their desire to see another neg list prospect get a chance, which has worked to varying degrees of success for Jennings and Lulay.

“We’ve had some decent quarterbacks (at Lions tryout camps) but I purposely haven’t (signed anyone) because it’s playing out exactly as we thought,” Buono said. “Vernon Adams is tweaking interest but he’s not an NFL-sized quarterback. He’s not a physical a player as Russell Wilson.”

Adams is, however, a transfer from Eastern Washington, which Buono suggests the pivot should well know the career path of another flinger from those parts, Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell, seeing as though Adams was Mitchell’s backup. Whether he arrives in camp in time to compete with Keith Price and Greg McGhee for the number-three spot is unclear, but if he does expect him to be given every possible chance. It probably doesn’t hurt to mention Adams if you’re the Lions, when you’re trying to see what makes sense with respect to a possible extension for Jennings.

Buono and president Dennis Skulsky were at the audio podium today as CFL teams take turns at this time of year outlining plans. A few highlights:

–Skulsky said David Braley, who’ll operate the Lions for the 20th year in 2016, is “on the road to making a full recovery” from health issues. Skulsky reported strong corporate and season sales numbers without specifics but admitted “we’ve got some work to do.”

–Buono maintained the absence of a contract extension for Jennings will not be a distraction, which could well be seen as a sign he plans to get something done prior to the start of camp or the regular season.

The coach/GM also made it clear that Lulay will not enter camp tabbed as a backup but will be given a chance to start at camp, repeating earlier comments.

–Buono didn’t seem to have issues with the prospect of an eight-round CFL draft, first mentioned on this website, next week.

“The quality of player in the CIS is getting better and better every year,” he said. “We have to have candidates for when September and October rolls around, and anybody who comes to a CFL camp they become better aware of what it takes to be a pro.”


–Skulsky admitted he hasn’t lost his fastball when it comes to edge marketing. A sign posted by the Lions recently near B.C. Place Stadium (above) marking the return of “real football” at the June 25 home opener, admittedly was a shot across the bow of soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps, according to the president.

Skulsky noted a plank of Caps marketing includes the tag line asking fans to be part of the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver, which might logically be a dig at both the Lions and Vancouver Canucks. “We thought we’d have some fun,” said Skulsky, who informed the Whitecaps about the sign before it was posted. Almost makes you wish the season did start tomorrow.

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.