Alouettes coach Sherman says despite blow to head, Manziel ready to play against Eskimos

Johnny Manziel wasn’t at the Montreal Alouettes’ first practice of the week, but coach Mike Sherman expects him to be in the lineup on Saturday in Edmonton.

Sherman said Manziel attended a quarterbacks meeting Tuesday but missed practice because of “a previously diagnosed medical condition that required blood work.”

There were fears that Manziel suffered a concussion when he took a crushing hit while trying to run the ball over the goal line for a touchdown during a 24-17 defeat in Ottawa on the weekend. He did not appear to be as sharp afterwards. He fumbled on the play, but Montreal recovered for the major.

But Sherman sees no reason why Manziel would not be fit to play in Edmonton.

“Nothing that I’ve been told or indicated,” he said. “He and I spent a lot of time after the game sitting on the bench talking at the stadium before we headed home, talking about how he did, talking about everything.

“There was nothing he indicated to me or anybody else that it would be a problem.”

He expects Manziel to be back on the field on Wednesday. That would give the former Texas A&M and Cleveland Browns pivot only two full practices before starting his third CFL game. He looked much improved in Ottawa from his CFL debut the week before when he was picked off four times in the first half against Hamilton.

In his first game, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner completed only 11 passes for 104 yards. In his second outing, he found his receivers 16 times for 168 yards, with no interceptions. But he has yet to throw a touchdown pass.

Now he’ll face one of the league’s best teams without full preparation.

“That’s the Canadian Football League, you’ve got to be able to go on a short week,” said Sherman. “We’ve already had a couple of them.

“It’s not optimum, but what do you want me to do? We’ll make it work.”

With the Alouettes’ depth chart at quarterback already stretched to the limit, Sherman’s 1-7 club needs its top starter in the lineup.

Drew Willy, Jeff Mathews and Vernon Adams are all injured, with Matt Shiltz has just returned to practising. Sixth-stringer Antonio Pipkin took the first-team snaps. The former Tiffin University star returned to the Alouettes practice roster last week after being cut on June 19.

Pipkin was with the team last season, but got into only the final game of the regular season when he completed two of nine passes for 14 yards. He spent the past two months “staying ready, continuing to work out, staying mentally prepared for the next opportunity.”

He vowed to be ready if needed.

“We’re professional athletes here,” he said. “If that’s the call, I’ll do my part.”

The Alouettes have the as-yet untested Austin Apodaca in reserve.

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