Ed Hervey isn’t normally in the habit of having many group discussions with his favourite employees but the significance of the deal he made to acquire Tyrell Sutton Tuesday might be measured in how he told the B.C. Lions.
At the urging of coach Wally Buono, the general manager addressed the CFL team as the Lions gathered at the conclusion of practice, telling them he had acquired Sutton from the Montreal Alouettes in a deal involving an exchange of draft picks.
To acquire the 31-year-old Sutton, a six-year CFL veteran, the Lions will surrender their second-round pick and a conditional sixth-rounder while picking up Montreal’s third-round selection next year.
And as Buono viewed the deal, the Lions now have an answer to a ground-game issue which they have not solved this year by acquiring a back they would like to think they’ll need for a road playoff game in November.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Tyrell Sutton. He’s my kind of guy; north and south, very good as a receiver and not afraid to block,” Buono said. “He fits into what we want in our running backs.”
It has been an elusive search.
The player in the post-practice huddle least likely to be surprised by the deal surely would be incumbent tailback Jeremiah Johnson. Since the start of the year, Hervey has acquired Travon Van, Brandon Rutley and non-import special teamer Wayne Moore for depth at the position, in addition to bringing back training camp cut Shaun Wick for a second look.
Last week, Hamilton Tiger-Cats coach June Jones also told TSN they nearly had a deal worked out with Hervey involving tailback John White, who’ll instead be trying to run down the Lions when the teams meet in their rematch Saturday.
B.C. is eighth in rushing averaging only 91.5 yards per game, but only two teams have had fewer carries. Among starting tailbacks, the only runner with fewer carries than Johnson (91) is Sutton (86). Both backs are scheduled to become free agents after the season.
It also has been a costly process overall for the Lions, which would also seem to reflect Hervey’s view of the Canadian college draft.
B.C. has acquired five potential starters since the first week of the regular season and six since training camp in an attempt to improve off its 3-6 start, not counting Rutley, who was lost for the season after his only game with the Lions.
However since the start of the year the Lions have now dealt away four 2019 picks, acquiring two in return, including their first and second-round picks next year. Hervey’s outlook would appear to be similar to that of Buono, who is down to his final six regular season contests before retirement, when it comes to Sutton. Next year can wait.
“We’re not looking at this as a 10-year career,” Buono said of the tailback, who has been bothered by a quad injury lately and has also been in concussion protocol. “Learn the system; when you start playing in the prairies you’re looking for a back who can give us a first down. He’s a playoff, cold-weather back.
“They’re (Montreal) trying to get better for next year; we’re trying to get better for next week.” Sutton won’t play Saturday against Hamilton, Buono said. B.C. plays host to Toronto Oct. 6.
LIONS TALES: If Sutton becomes the featured tailback, it will mean only six of 24 starters on offence and defence have remained in the same position they finished last season.. Linebacker Keon Lyn, who suffered a horrific leg injury last season in Hamilton that required surgery, was added to the Lions practice roster Tuesday along with receiver Tyler Davis, whose bid to land a roster spot with the Lions was derailed when he suffered an ankle injury in camp this year. … Jon Jennings and Bryan Burnham, whose late-game heroics helped pull out a comeback win against Hamilton Saturday, were named by the league as top performers of the week.