As they prepare for a trip to Ottawa for game number five of 2018, the BC Lions are starting to feel the effects of the injury bug. One day after it was announced running back Jeremiah Johnson was doubtful with a wonky ankle, head coach Wally Buono confirmed that Solomon Elimimian will miss Friday’s tilt with a lingering wrist problem that was aggravated in recent days and required surgery early this week.
It was definitely not the news they wanted ahead of their latest challenge.
“What I was told is that they had to fix his wrist and from there I haven’t seen him and I guess he hasn’t come back from the doctor,” said Buono during his post-practice media scrum on Tuesday.
“It’s unfortunate because I know after the game he was complaining about the hand, yesterday also, and after I guess after they’ve done all their research it wasn’t good news.”
At this point, the exact timing of when it happened is unknown.
“Not that I know of,” responded Buono when asked if it happened on a particular play against Winnipeg.
“That could be cumulative, that could be one time, who knows right? Injuries sometimes aren’t always just one play. The constant pounding, you fall on it wrong, somebody hits you with their helmet, injuries, unfortunately, occur in many ways.”
Buono later told TSN 1040’s 3 Down Radio program that the 2014 CFL Most Outstanding Player could miss up to eight weeks.
“What’s really the most important thing? The game Friday night. I don’t think he’ll be playing Friday night and after that, we’ve got two weeks to figure it out.”
The Lions have two remaining bye weeks: immediately after Ottawa and then Labour Day weekend to kick off September.
A lot can happen with another full day of practice before the team flies east, but early indications suggest 2017 draft pick and SFU product Jordan Herdman could get the shoulder tap to fill in for Elimimian at middle linebacker.
Never one to get too high or low, Herdman says this is all part of the job and helping the team out at a critical position.
“I feel like it’s a good opportunity to show what I can do, ” said Herdman.
“I had a great offseason, trained really hard and I’m ready to go. I feel great. I come out here every day like I’m waiting for an opportunity like this. I’m just grateful and ready to go.”
“Jordan did a great job for us when he played in the pre-season games,” explained Buono.
“He’s a good football player, he’s worked really really hard in the offseason to improve himself physically and I’m excited to see him play.”
Herdman has suited up for 22 straight games to start his CFL career, racking up 22 special teams tackles.
Another thing the club loses with these two key veterans gone is the leadership they bring. It’s just the nature of the business according to the coach and perhaps an opportunity for some new vocal leaders to emerge.
“Maybe it’s going to be good. Normally it’s ‘let Solly do it, let Solly do it.’ Well, guess what? Solly ain’t here, so he can’t do it. It’s time for the veterans to stand up. As I said, we’re a veteran team. It annoys me to see the mistakes. Leadership is something that’s internal. If one of your leaders goes down, somebody else has got to step up.”
It sounds cliche. But as they look to turn heads in the nation’s capital it will be a ‘next man up’ mentality.