There’s a nifty photo illustration making its way around social media the last couple of days: it’s the face of Ticats quarterback Zach Collaros juxtaposed over the body of Jesus. It’s labelled “The Return.”
No pressure, kid.
Collaros was officially named the starter for Saturday’s game against the B.C. Lions on Tuesday, head coach Kent Austin finally giving his, um, blessing for the 27-year-old to play his first game since suffering a torn ACL on Sept. 19, 2015.
“Right now, unless there’s any setbacks, it looks pretty good,” said Austin, who clearly didn’t get the memo about the marching band. “We have to be realistic about the work that he’s getting but we aren’t anticipating any issues.”
Austin seems keen on tamping down expectations, something he’s done throughout much of Collaros’ recovery period.
“He’s worked pretty hard but I’m going to tell you you’ve got to be careful putting the focus on Zach because he’s not going to like it too much,” Austin said.
Indeed, he didn’t and doesn’t.
Collaros has always been wary of exuding the me-first mentality that quarterbacks can sometimes fall victim to and has clearly tired of the question he’s been hearing for almost a year: ‘so, how’s the knee?’ After spending so much time with doctors and physical therapists, now he’s got the media poking him with a stick.
“I honestly can’t wait for this week to be over with and then you can ask me about the other team’s defence and not about me,” Collaros said. “I’m looking forward to that.”
While Collaros is expecting his usual level of anticipation-induced nausea come game time and acknowledges to putting some pressure on himself – which all competitive people do, he says – he rebuffs the idea that he’ll require the psychological support of his teammates beyond what they’d usually offer.
“I don’t think I’ll be seeking out anyone for a one-on-one sit down,” he said. “The guys that have been here, we have good relationships and if they just walk by and say ‘hey, you look good out there’ that kind of stuff helps for sure.”
Veteran receiver Andy Fantuz says Collaros’ return might help them with their slow starts – they’ve been outscored by a wide margin in the first half so far this season – but that one guy isn’t going to fix everything that needs fixing on a 3-3 team.
“We’re not putting too much pressure on Zach. It’s the ultimate team sport and the parity in this league is as good as it’s ever been,” Fantuz said. “Zach’s a guy that’s easy to rally behind with his energy on the field but we’re going to have to all step up as well.”
Notes: The Ticats have signed former Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Brandon Sermons to the practice roster. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder appeared in nine games over two seasons with Ottawa making one start and registering nine defensive tackles, seven special teams tackles and one sack. He was released on July 17. Hamilton is currently starting two rookies at the corner spots. “We need some help and we’ll get an evaluation. Ask me in a few days,” Austin said of Sermons. “We like him and we brought him in for a reason. But there’s a lot to learn, too.”… receiver Luke Tasker, who leads the team in catches and yards, sat out Tuesday’s practice but Austin called it a “maintenance day” as he said Tasker is expected to play Saturday against the Lions… Austin missed practice on Monday and while the absence wasn’t for a medical issue, he did make light… “I had to get a lobotomy. You’d think after the last game, right?”