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Lions hope for healthy quarterbacks heading into East semifinal against Ticats

The B.C. Lions are hoping their fragile quarterback corps is finally on the mend heading into their biggest game of the season.

SURREY, B.C. - The B.C. Lions are hoping their fragile quarterback corps is finally on the mend heading into their biggest game of the season.

The Lions face the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton on Sunday in the CFL's East Division semifinal hampered by a roster that's been riddled with injuries.

The Lions were down to their last quarterback, fifth-stringer Zac Champion, when they lost 45-13 on Saturday to the Edmonton Eskimos.

But things looked brighter on Monday. The 8-10 Lions had backed into the playoffs as a crossover team and No. 3 seed in the East and there was hope for their quarterbacks' health.

"It'll be fine, hopefully," Casey Printers, the Lions' projected starter, said of his sprained right thumb. "The training staff is working hard together, just trying to work at it, so we'll see what happens."

Printers lasted just over five minutes against the Eskimos before he injured his thumb scrambling in the backfield.

"From every indication that we're getting, we believe he'll be able to (start)," coach Wally Buono said.

Next in his quarterback pecking order is rookie Travis Lulay, whose shoulder injury prevented him from dressing against Edmonton but expects to be testing his arm in practice.

"I'm going to be healthy this week and be ready to go," said Lulay who was injured in a 24-21 victory over Winnipeg on Oct. 18. "I wouldn't say I'm 100 per cent but it's very close."

Lulay, who has completed 22 of 36 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions over five games, said he could start if necessary.

"It depends on how Casey is but I'm going to prepare as though I'm going to be the guy," Lulay said at the club's practice facility.

Buck Pierce, the previous No. 1 pivot who has battled shoulder problems much of the season and left the Edmonton game early in the second half, could dress as the third quarterback.

"It's not great," Pierce said of his injury. "It's kind of day to day. Right now, it's getting some range of motion back in it. The pain's still there but there are ways we can get around that."

One thing the Lions have in their favour is an extra day between games.

"Sunday's a long time away so we'll see what happens in the next couple of days," Printers said.

B.C. has lost three straight entering the playoffs against the Ticats, a club that swept them in July - 31-28 at home and 30-18 in Hamilton.

Hamilton, 11-7, is host to a home playoff game for the first time in eight years after they defeated the Blue Bombers 39-17 in Winnipeg on Sunday, which opened the door for B.C.

"I couldn't sleep all weekend," said Lions receiver Paris Jackson. "I was sitting in front of the TV with my pom-poms and cheering ... we're just grateful for the opportunity we have now and we have to take advantage of it."

Jackson, who's already talking smack in text messages with Hamilton linebackers and former Lions Otis Floyd, Jamall Johnson and Markeith Knowlton, said he isn't worried about who starts under centre for B.C.

"The healthiest quarterback is going to be in there and give us an opportunity," Jackson said. "It's time for us to step up and shut up."

Safety Barron Miles, who snared his 66th career interception Friday for second on the CFL's all-time list, said the Lions aren't thinking about how they backed into the playoffs or their three straight losses.

"You know the size of our egos?" he said. "We're athletes. No matter how many times you get knocked down, you want to be professional, get back up and try to win the next game."

Defensive back Korey Banks said he's already forgotten the Lions' recent record, but admitted to having selective memory loss.

"You've got to have it around here," Banks said. "You can be sugar one day ... you know what you can be the next.

"It's going to be our shoulder pads against their shoulder pads and we'll see what happens."

Buono said the mood in the Lions locker-room after the Edmonton loss was to hope for one more chance with a Ticat win.

"You know what, they got it," Buono said. "Now it's what you do with it."

 
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