Angus Reid’s season — and career — continued to hang in limbo Tuesday.
The veteran B.C. centre will miss his 10th straight game Saturday due to a back injury as the Lions visit the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the second game of a home-and-home series.
Reid, a 36-year-old Richmond, B.C., native who has yet to snap the ball in his 13th CFL season, is scheduled to come off the nine-game injured list. But he expects to go back on it, pending a decision that coach Mike Benevides and general manager Wally Buono have yet to make.
“I’m not ready to play right now,” said Reid after limited participation in a practice. “It’ll still take some time. I don’t know how long that’s going to be.”
Reid’s injury among a number of health issues that the Lions (6-3) are dealing with as they attempt to post their second straight win over the Ticats (4-5) in their temporary home of Guelph, Ont. Middle linebacker Solomon Elimimian (thigh) and defensive back Ryan Phillips (groin) are questionable after getting hurt in B.C.’s 29-26 victory last Friday.
“[A return to the nine-game injured list is] probable, because they could still take me off later [before nine games are up], so I think it might just be a better scenario to do that than to go week to week without any knowledge of how long that might be,” said Reid.
He said the injury, which has raised questions about whether he will be able to continue his career, will likely require surgery after the season.
“Ideally, I’d like to be [playing] football,” he said. “I want the pain alleviated. ... For now, I’m doing everything I can to make sure I can play if I’m needed and be able to put up with whatever pain there is without doing any more harm. It, hopefully, does get better, but so far it hasn’t on its own.”
Reid has three herniated discs in his lower back, and one is pressing against the sciatic nerve.
“I’m trying to get it off, because it doesn’t allow a lot of movement without pain. ... I’m trying my best, every treatment I can to alleviate some of the pain so if need be, if I need to play, I can get it done,” he said. “It’s not a great scenario, but we’re working at it.”
Reid donned his full pads with his teammates Tuesday, but could only participate in limited activity. Still, it was more than he has done in quite some time. He was sidelined early in training camp when years of bending over backward for his team caught up to him.
“I’m doing all the drills again,” said Reid, who has stayed home from road trips. “I did a lot of scout team work [Monday]. I didn’t do much [Tuesday] with the pads, just because I want to ease into the pounding and want to make sure I can handle it. I don’t want to regress.”
Quarterback Travis Lulay said Reid has still played an important role in the team’s progress this season by contributing in team meetings and teaching sessions with other offensive linemen. Reid has put on “a brave face” in light of his own ordeal while attempting to help the team succeed.
“He’s still a very respected voice in the locker-room,” said Lulay. “I’m sure he has his struggles, but he does a good job when he’s around the team.”
Lulay also praised second-year pro Matt Norman, whose transition to centre from guard, planned for Reid’s anticipated retirement a few years from now, was accelerated by the veteran snapper’s injury.
“[Norman] is getting better every single week,” said Lulay. “The more looks he sees, the more different scenarios come up in a game, the better he gets. He’s a smart guy. You’re always looking for a guy who doesn’t make the same mistake twice, and he’s pretty good about that. He’s pretty good about fixing his mistakes and moving along.”
Benevides said he still does not know what decision he will make regarding Reid, but was encouraged by his work with the scout team a day earlier. Meanwhile, the coach listed both Elimimian and Phillips as day to day.
Elimimian was sidelined in the first half Friday while playing on special teams, but hopes to play Saturday.
“It’s making progress,” said Elimimian. “I’m feeling better day to day.”
Pending Elimimian’s availability, linebacker Yaser Elqutub, a 25-year-old Katy, Tex., native out of Northwestern State, has a chance to make his CFL debut. Elqutub has been on the practice roster since signing with the Lions on July 1.
“He’s been here for a while, he’s been preparing and he’s been good,” said Benevides. “Now, we’ll see if we have to activate him or not.”
Phillips was hurt in the second quarter against Hamilton, as he tried to get going on coverage of a receiver on a deep route. But he was able to complete the game, and took part in limited drills in practice.
“It’s getting better,” said Phillips. “I’m still a little sore and things like that. I didn’t try to do anything too much [Tuesday] , to try to pull it or try to run full speed or anything like that.”
While the defence adapts to possible personnel changes and efforts to prevent Hamilton from staging another late rally, Lulay expects both clubs to throw some wrinkles into their offences. He passed for more than 300 yards for the first time this season Friday, but the B.C. running game still needs to get untracked. Tailback Andrew Harris was held under 100 yards for the third straight game — and he has yet to gain more than 50 in the past two.
“It’s been a struggle the last couple games,” said Harris. “Obviously, teams are keying on me a little bit more now, and it’s making things difficult. But in the same vent, we need to be more productive.”
Note: B.C. linebacker Anton McKenzie is slated to play with a cast on his right thumb for the second straight game after undergoing minor surgery last week.