Lions expect to be without backup quarterback Kevin Thomson long term, after controversial hit caused ‘serious injury’

Photo courtesy: B.C. Lions

The B.C. Lions are expected to be without backup quarterback Kevin Thomson for the foreseeable future after the Sacramento State product suffered a major injury late in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Calgary Stampeders.

Many felt that Thomson had worked his way into the number two quarterback job in training camp and he showed promise in his first live game action, finishing 9-of-20 for 129 yards and one interception against Calgary. His lone turnover, a pick-six, came on his final throw of the contest when a free blitz from Stampeders’ defensive back Titus Wall forced him out of the game in obvious pain with four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The hit drew heavy criticism from the Lions postgame, with Calgary accused of being overly aggressive with their defensive playcalling at the tail end of a meaningless blowout. Thomson was taken to hospital as a result and will not be available to the team to start the season.

“It’s a serious injury, but it’s something that he will recover from. They still need to do a few more tests,” head coach Rick Campbell said in a team-produced video. “He stayed in Calgary last night in the hospital getting some stuff done. I don’t want to discuss exactly what his medical thing is because they still need to determine stuff, but it’s something that going to be a longer-term issue.”

Thomson originally joined the team in October of 2021 and dressed in one game as a backup. In 27 games over four seasons at Sacramento State University, the six-foot-one, 220-pound pivot completed 57.3 percent of his passes for 6,424 yards and 52 touchdowns against 12 interceptions while adding 257 carries for 1,247 yards and 21 majors.

Thomson earned Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Big Sky honours in 2019. He transferred to the University of Washington for 2020, before forgoing his final year of eligibility due to the pandemic.

In his absence, Canadian Michael O’Connor will assume the backup quarterback duties behind first-year starter Nathan Rourke by default. The two are expected to create the first all-Canadian quarterback duo in modern CFL history, but the team now needs to find a third signal-caller to serve as insurance for their inexperienced tandem.

That decision could be coming down the pipe shortly, with teams around the league making roster changes following their first preseason action.

“You wait and see, ” Campbell said. “This is kind of an interesting time for everybody because teams are going to be cutting down today, so you always look at the waiver wire to see what’s going on. We’re always looking to get better if there are people that we can find.”

Before any additions can be made, the Lions will need to make their own cuts. Per CFL bylaws, they must reduce their roster down to 75 players, plus non-counters, before midnight eastern time on Sunday.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and youth football coach. He covers the CFL, the CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.