CFL

Shocked by move for Burris, Glenn happy with B.C. Lions

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The Canadian Press
6/3/2014 4:10:09 PM
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KAMLOOPS, B.C. -- Kevin Glenn was all set to be the Ottawa Redblacks' first starting quarterback.

The team selected him first overall in the expansion draft to stock the CFL's ninth franchise, and following years of uncertainty he was preparing to once again be an undisputed No. 1 pivot.

Then almost overnight, circumstances changed dramatically.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats released veteran quarterback Henry Burris -- who led them to last year's Grey Cup -- at the end of January after signing Zach Collaros to be their new starter, creating an opportunity the Redblacks felt they couldn't pass up.

Ottawa signed Burris to a three-year contract a few days later to be the face of the franchise -- a move that Glenn met with a trade demand, one that was finally granted last month at the draft when the Redblacks dealt him to the B.C. Lions.

Now at training camp with his new team and happy to be wanted, there's still a tinge of bitterness in Glenn's voice when talk turns to the way things played out in the nation's capital.

"Everybody knows the situation in Ottawa," the 34-year-old said this week. "I was kind of blindsided into what was going on because, not getting into everything ... they knew that I wanted to be 'the guy' in order to be in Ottawa."

He said the Redblacks didn't notify him they intended to sign Burris, simply adding: "I got it in the news the same day that it actually happened."

Glenn wouldn't speculate on how things would have played out if Ottawa had let him know what they were thinking prior to the move, but he's comfortable with his new teammates and eager to contribute.

"To me, it's just a better situation than it was in Ottawa. I'm just being honest, from top to bottom," he said. "It is it what it is. You don't worry about that kind of stuff. You sit back and you let everything else take care of itself. You only handle what you can handle."

He points to a roster filled with players who won a championship three years ago as why he was willing to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Travis Lulay in B.C., something he wasn't able to accept with the Redblacks.

"This is not any knock towards the Ottawa franchise or the league or the fans in Ottawa or anything," said Glenn. "You're dealing with an expansion team versus a team (with) a lot guys who actually won the Grey Cup in 2011."

Glenn could have eventually been given a shot behind Burris, who turns 39 on Wednesday, but there's a chance he might start the Lions' season opener as Lulay continues to recover from off-season shoulder surgery.

"It's more opportunity. I'm going to be honest," he said. "I think that's one of the reasons why B.C. made the trade -- just to say we can get another quality guy.

"I think the biggest thing for us is we have two guys who can win games."

Lions head coach Mike Benevides said the team was desperate to add experienced depth at quarterback and it just worked out that Glenn's situation changed at the right time.

"I can't overstate how important it was to get Kevin," said Benevides. "When you take a look at where Travis is, we know we're going to need all of training camp to get him where we need to get him to. When you take a look at Kevin, what I've seen thus far (is) an outstanding teammate, a pro that's been around 14 years."

Glenn led the Calgary Stampeders to the 2012 Grey Cup game and has thrown for 39,418 yards and 222 touchdowns against 151 interceptions over his career while completing 62 per cent of his passes.

"He's thrilled to be here. He wanted to change. He got the change that he wanted, and for us now he gets to explore a lot of our offence," said Benevides. "It's a good marriage and I think he'll be able to play at a moment's notice."

First-year Lions offensive co-ordinator Khari Jones, who has both played with and coached Glenn in the past, said it was critical to add a viable second option under centre after B.C. lost backup Thomas DeMarco in the expansion draft.

"In this league right now you can never have too many quality quarterbacks," said Jones. "It's a tough league. It's a tough league to play 18 games and you want to have the opportunity when your starter might not be in there to have someone who's a starter in his own right to come in and play good football and help you win games."

Although they both want to be on the field when B.C. opens its regular-season schedule later this month, Glenn and Lulay have already struck up a good working relationship, even making the four-hour drive from the Vancouver area up to Thompson Rivers University for training camp together in the same car.

"He's welcomed me with open arms (even though) we're two guys fighting for the same position," said Glenn. "That right there, hands down I have respect for you. We're not even talking about stuff on the football field and how you play, but just the person that he is."

Lulay said he watched Glenn from afar as an opponent and was impressed by how he dealt with platoon situations in Hamilton and Calgary in recent years.

"He was always a guy I thought pretty highly of. He's been a consistent guy and been able to play at a high level. He's been in a lot of different situations," said Lulay. "Being able to overcome that and focus on being able to go out and play and playing well, that built a lot of respect from your peer group.

"Knowing that he's a guy who's seen the highs, he's seen the lows of playing the position in the league, that just builds a lot respect before I even had known him. It helps us break that trust barrier a little quicker."

Glenn's ability to work in a number of different scenarios has also taken some of the pressure off Lulay to rush back from injury for a team that will be feeling the heat to perform in the tough West Division as Grey Cup hosts.

"One of the things about being injured is you feel like you're letting your teammates down by not being able to be out there with them," said Lulay. "Having a guy you can trust to lead the team is really important.

"A guy that plays 14 years in this league, that doesn't happen by accident."

Kevin Glenn (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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