Wally Buono doesn’t like the term “backup quarterback” when describing one of his newest acquisitions.
The B.C. Lions’ general manager and vice-president of football operations made a splash at Tuesday’s CFL draft, acquiring disgruntled pivot Kevin Glenn from the Ottawa Redblacks for the fifth overall pick.
The move is significant not only when taking into account Glenn’s past success in the CFL, but also because Lions starting quarterback Travis Lulay is coming off surgery to his throwing shoulder.
“Kevin Glenn is an experienced quarterback that’s won wherever he’s been,” Buono said on a conference call Wednesday. “He’s a guy that I think brings instant credibility (and) adds strength to (the position).
“You can’t win without great quarterbacking.”
Glenn, who spent the last two seasons with the Calgary Stampeders, was selected by Ottawa in the expansion draft to stock the league’s ninth franchise, but became available after the Redblacks signed Henry Burris to a three-year contract following his release by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
“I believe it will be a very, very good marriage. Kevin wants to be in a place where he believes he’ll be utilized,” said Buono. “We hope Travis goes all 18 games, but if he doesn’t we feel we have a guy that can step in and help us win football games.”
Lulay missed six games at the end of the 2013 season after damaging his labrum in September, but returned to play in the Lions’ West Division semifinal loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“When you look at professional sports, whether it’s the NFL or the CFL, injuries to your quarterback is always a major issue that you have to deal with,” said Buono. “To be able to acquire a quarterback of (Glenn’s) calibre who comes in here and makes us that much better instantly was a tremendous opportunity for us.”
B.C. head coach Mike Benevides said he expects Lulay to be ready when training camp opens June 1, but added that his No. 1 quarterback is still not 100 per cent.
“There’s no doubt that we’re going to need a phase of training camp to continue the progression that he’s on right now,” said Benevides. “The plan is to have him work for a segment of time in practice but the first day of camp he will be participating.”
The Lions were in need of a capable secondary option under centre after Thomas DeMarco was selected by Ottawa in the expansion draft and Buck Pierce retired to become an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The club has former NFLer John Beck on the roster, as well as Chris Hart, who was with B.C. last season but saw no playing time.
Buono said the addition of Glenn will allow Lulay more time to heal if need be ahead of the Lions’ first regular-season game.
“When you have a quarterback that’s coming off a major injury, the stronger you are behind him, the less pressure you put on that quarterback ... to speed up the process,” said Buono. “We want this to be a natural progression where (Lulay) follows the medical protocol, which he’s doing. Having Kevin here not only gives Mike and I confidence, but I think it gives everybody in the organization, everybody that supports the B.C. Lions confidence that come June 28 we will have a very good football team and we’ll have two very good experienced quarterbacks to lead us.”
Glenn said after Tuesday’s trade that he was excited for a fresh start with the Lions. The 34-year-old guided Calgary to a Grey Cup berth in 2012 and a CFL-best 14-4 record last year before getting scooped up by the Redblacks.
“To be honest I didn’t know if anything would actually happen,” said Glenn, who wanted out of Ottawa after the team signed Burris. “To give up a first-round draft pick shows a team really wants you.
“That’s what I was kind of excited about.”
The Lions won the Grey Cup at B.C. Place Stadium back in 2011 and are hosting the big game again in November, but Buono stressed the move for Glenn isn’t a move with that showcase in mind, but rather about getting the best possible product on the field at key times.
“The last two years, we’ve had good teams and we have not won a playoff game,” said Buono. “That’s just the reality of our business, whether it’s football or any other sport. Winning in the playoffs is critical. Winning the big game is critical.”
“There’s different stages of the season. You want to win in the regular season, you want to put yourself in the playoffs to win, and then you want to put yourself in position to win the Grey Cup. You can’t win the Grey Cup unless you win in the playoffs, so we’re building a team to hopefully do both.”
Notes: The Lions made a couple of roster moves on Wednesday, releasing quarterback Jarrett Lee and signing four import defensive backs, including former NFL cornerback Brandon McDonald, who played 80 games over six seasons with Cleveland, Detroit and Tampa Bay. ... After trading out of the first round to get Glenn on Tuesday, the Lions chose offensive lineman T-Dre Player out of Northwestern State with the 12th pick. B.C. followed that up but taking Laval fullback Pascal Lochard (14th overall), Simon Fraser linebacker Casey Chin (27th overall), Montreal defensive lineman David Menard (32nd overall), Bishop’s wide receiver Alexander Fox (41st overall), Simon Fraser defensive lineman Dylan Roper (50th overall) and Laval running back Guillaume Bourassa (59th overall).