Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. sees opportunity with the B.C. Lions, the team he joined via a trade last week.
Requesting a move from the Montreal Alouettes, though, wasn’t easy.
“It was definitely bittersweet because I’ve been there for seven years and it’s like a second home almost,” Adams said after his first practice with the Lions on Saturday. “The fans really embraced me, the city embraced me, I love the locker room there.”
B.C. acquired the veteran quarterback from Montreal for a 2023 first-round draft pick Wednesday.
The 29-year-old University of Oregon product has played the vast majority of his CFL career in Montreal, save for a brief 11-game stint with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2017.
An elbow injury limited Adams’ role this year, however. Over five games, he’s registered 294 passing yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The native of Pasadena, Cali., has also rushed for 33 yards and a TD.
Now healthy, Adams wanted to be somewhere he could get more time on the field and his agent suggested he ask for a trade given Montreal had appeared to settle upon veteran Trevor Harris as its No. 1 quarterback.
“I didn’t think I was in their plans over there in Montreal,” Adams Jr. said. “I just kind of wanted to get somewhere else and I want to get back to having fun and get an opportunity to play.”
The Lions (8-2) were looking for help after star quarterback Nathan Rourke underwent surgery for a foot injury last month. Backup Michael O’Connor then suffered a groin injury in B.C.’s 23-16 loss to Saskatchewan on Aug. 26.
Bringing in Adams gives the team more options at quarterback, said Rick Campbell, Lions’ head coach and co-general manager.
“It’s good to have a guy that has CFL experience and understands what it takes to win in this league,” he said. “And he’s been integrating in well.
“He’s getting a crash course on our offence and so far so good.”
Adams had his most productive season in 2019 when he amassed 3,942 passing yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also rushed for 394 yards with another 13 TDs.
He’s a quarterback who’s good both in the air and on the ground and that’s a great asset, Campbell said.
“He’s got the dynamic with his feet, too, so if the play break downs, he can scramble and improvise and do those things,” he said.
The Lions aren’t looking to make major changes as the team works to replace Rourke, who still leads the league in passing yards (3,281) and touchdowns (25), despite having played just nine games this year.
“We’ll play to the strength of our guys but we’re not going to overhaul our offence by any means,” Campbell said. “We’re still going to do what we do.
“And if there’s different wrinkles we can put in, then we’ll do it. But for the most part, we’re going to run our offence.”
Adams has been hard at work getting up to speed on that offence. He spent much of his five-hour flight from Montreal to Vancouver on Friday watching video of the Lions and breaking down plays.
After his first practice with the team, Adams Jr. stayed on the field for an extra 20 minutes working with other quarterbacks and a small group of receivers.
Campbell said who’ll start for the Lions when they visit the Alouettes (4-7) on Friday has yet to be determined.
But Adams is eager to help his new squad anyway he can — whether that’s on the field or in the conference room, drawing up a game plan for his former team.
“It’s weird,” he said. “I’m going to go out there, if I’m on the field going against those guys, it’s going to be like practice.
“It’s different, but it’s exciting.”
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press