Michael Couture, David Knevel ruled out as B.C. Lions reshuffle offensive line for home opener

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

The B.C. Lions will field a very different offensive line during Saturday’s home opener than the one that struggled in Week 1.

Veteran centre Michael Couture has been placed on the one-game injured list with a back injury, which opens the door for 24-year-old Tyler Packer to make his first career start. A sixth-round pick in the 2021 CFL Draft, Packer was a Canada West all-star at tackle during his time at the University of Calgary but has appeared in just three career games as a backup during his time in the CFL.

Packer will also have a new face beside him, as left guard David Knevel goes on the one-game injured list with a foot issue which held him out of practice on Thursday. American Chris Schleuger, who has started 19 games primarily at tackle over five CFL seasons with Montreal and B.C., will step into the role after losing an open competition with Knevel in training camp.

Veteran Andrew Peirson, who has made 22 career starts at centre and left guard, has been activated from the practice roster to serve as depth. 2024 first-round draft pick George Una will remain a healthy scratch.

The changes come after the Lions allowed six sacks in their Week 1 loss to the Toronto Argonauts, five of which came in the final 18 minutes.


Veteran defensive back Ciante Evans, who signed with the Lions as a free agent this offseason, will also be absent from this contest after missing the week of practice with a non-injury personal matter. Rookie Ronald Kent Jr. will make his first career start and replace him at field-side halfback.

Canadian strong-side linebacker Patrice Rene has been listed as a game-time decision with an ankle injury. It is unclear how the team will adapt if he is unable to go and Evans remains unavailable, though it could involve Emmanuel Rugamba returning to his old SAM spot and Canadian rookie Cristophe Beaulieu stepping in at halfback.

2024 sixth-round draft pick Terrence Ganyi will make his first appearance at linebacker in this game and is expected to contribute on special teams.

The B.C. Lions (0-1) will host the Calgary Stampeders (1-0) at B.C. Place Stadium on Saturday, June 15 with kickoff slated for 7:00 p.m. EDT. A crowd of over 50,000 is expected to be in attendance due to a pre-game concert from rap icon 50 Cent.

Graphic courtesy: B.C. Lions