Experience helping Lulay in latest recovery

It’s a telling sign of both the fragility and recuperative ability of Travis Lulay when he was asked whether it’s more difficult to rehab a major shoulder injury or the surgically-repaired right knee which is the current focus of the BC Lions.

Face it, the man has had some experience at both in his CFL career so far.

“You’d be surprised how many people have asked ‘how’s your shoulder?’ My shoulder’s fine. It’s the knee now, right?” he joked.

Indeed it is, and because the 34-year-old quarterback is trying to make yet another comeback, he threw to a handful of volunteering veteran receiving teammates for roughly 34 minutes Friday at the club’s Surrey facility. The irony was not lost on Lulay, nor to those on hand which was part of the story itself, that there seemed more focus on his throwing mechanics in a controlled setting than his agility.

That Lulay would agree to run around and air it out in front of the cameras is also a sign of how things have changed with the Lions under Wally Buono over the years, with new general manager Ed Hervey now in charge.

The last time Lulay had legitimate questions about his shoulder was at training camp in 2014 when Buono threw a virtual blanket over their starting quarterback in Kamloops. It didn’t work well.

“There’s a lesson learned. I wasn’t quite ready. I thought I could just play managed football… We won’t err the same way this time; that was the mistake we made before,” Lulay said. “I was trying to play easy in a live setting which you can’t quite do. We’ll play it smart. One of the first things Ed said was ‘our timeline is your health’s timeline. We don’t need you to do anything by a certain point’.

“I don’t like to be the sideshow.”

So when the Lions eventually hit the practice field in Kamloops this time, Lulay will take part in all team activities except team periods, and the focus of this rebuilding franchise will be squarely on the ability of Jon Jennings to recover from his errant ways, as it should.

No, Lulay said, he’s not prepared to declare he’ll be the picture of perfect health even by the opening of the regular season June 16, not when his recovery from a torn right ACL and bi-lateral meniscus, plus damaged MCL, is only in its eighth month.

Many injuries similar to the one Lulay suffered Sept. 8, and had many suggesting his career was over before the Lions took the leap of faith which came in the form of a new contract offer, require a year of recovery.

“I mean I’m optimistic. I know I still have a way to go before I’m game-ready. It’s like a dimmer-switch: It gets a little better as time goes on.…It’s a continual struggle. I’ve learned to emotionally detach,” Lulay said.

And the Lions have learned how to better deal with a major injury to a player who’ll invariably play a big role in their potential success much differently than the past.

“Just remember, if we had put him on the deferred list (for camp) he has no part of practice. To me that’s not even an option,” Buono said.

Alright,  how about this option — which is tougher, rehabbing a knee or a shoulder?

“I joked in the past with the shoulder; (I asked myself) ‘why can’t I hurt my knee like a normal guy’?” said the quarterback. “I don’t wish that on anybody, either one.”

LIONS TALES: The Lions continue to talk with Micah Awe about a possible return but the focus of the second-year linebacker was a tryout Friday at the free agent mini-camp of the Buffalo Bills. … The club confirmed the signings of 2018 draft picks Julien Laurent and Rashari Henry, and that national defensive back Keynan Parker has been released. The non-import spot at safety will be contested by incumbent Anthony Thompson and reacquired veteran Cauchy Muamba…. The Lions are watching the health of RG candidate Charles Vaillancourt, who injured his hand last season and may not yet have fully recovered. Veterans must pass medicals prior to the start of the first camp session May 20.


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.