The Cone of Silence has descended upon Travis Lulay.
Pleasantries aside, the B.C. Lions’ No. 1 quarterback won’t be discussing the status of his shoulder injury again until after the team’s Sept. 27 game in Winnipeg.
“We’re having Travis address this now, because he’s not going to talk about this every single day, until after the Winnipeg game,” head coach Mike Benevides said at a news conference Tuesday.
Benevides himself went mum when asked who will start in Lulay’s place Sunday in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders — Thomas DeMarco or Buck Pierce?
Indications are it will be DeMarco, the second-year pro from Old Dominion who will make his first Canadian Football League start, making him the fifth first-time starter in the CFL this season. Bo Levi Mitchell of the Calgary Stampeders, Zach Collaros of the Toronto Argonauts and Tanner Marsh/Josh Neiswander of the Montreal Alouettes previously made their CFL debuts as starting quarterbacks in 2013 because of injuries.
“I’m not Travis Lulay,” DeMarco said. “I have tremendous respect for him, as a player and person. My job is to make the second position (backup) not be such a far drop from the level he’s playing. I just need to play my game, play to my strengths and, hopefully, move the ball.”
Roughriders starting quarterback Darian Durant has a damaged finger on his throwing hand and is feeling the rigours of the season as well, but coach Corey Chamblin indicated he’ll be ready to play against the Lions in a game that could decide second place in the CFL’s West Division. The 8-3 Roughriders are a game ahead of the 7-4 Lions but are coming off two straight defeats.
"If you look around the league, key guys are out all over the place,'' Durant told Postmedia News. "It's about plugging guys in and making sure you don't lose a beat. It's about winning tough games.”
Injured in his last Sunday’s 36-14 win over the Alouettes, Lulay will miss at least two games before his status is re-evaluated, Benevides said.
Speaking to a group of assembled reporters, Lulay said he suffered a subluxation of the right shoulder after crashing into Montreal defensive back Geoff Tisdale on a touchdown run in the fourth quarter Sunday.
“The initial diagnosis is similar to where we were last year,” Lulay explained. “A subluxation. My hope is that it settles down sooner, rather than later, and we can move forward and get healthy.”
A subluxation, while not as severe as a separation or dislocation, involves a partial dislocation of the shoulder joint. The ball of the upper arm joint comes partially out of the socket and stretches the surrounding ligaments.
Lulay suffered a similar injury, Oct. 12 last year, when he damaged his shoulder while in a throwing motion against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He missed two games but returned to play half of the final game of the regular season.
“This was a new, traumatic event,” Lulay said. “It’s not wear and tear, something that happened based on what happened before.”
While repeated subluxations can lead to chronic instability in the surrounding tissue, Lulay said surgery is not contemplated at this time.
“That’s not completely out of the question,” he said. “But talking with the doctors at this point, that’s not a course of action.”
“We’re going to let the inflammation come down, and then he’ll go through the rehabilitation process,” Benevides added. “Obviously, we play two games in the next 10 days. The advice we’ve been given is to let him rest. After the Winnipeg game (Sept. 27) we’ll re-evaluate how the rehab is going, how the strength is coming along.”
It would indicate that Lulay’s earliest possible return could be the Lions’ Oct. 4 game against the Roughriders at BC Place Stadium.
With games in Regina and Winnipeg in span of five days, the Lions will be taking an Air North Boeing 737 charter to both cities in an attempt to partially alleviate the compressed schedule. Lulay said he will be included in the traveling party.
“I want to add value. I want to add my input,” he said. “I’ve had those guys (DeMarco and Pierce) on the sidelines there for me, and I want to be that guy there for them.
“Thomas, going into this game, I want to be there to help him out. Look, it’s really disappointing to be injured, and not be able to go.”