BRITISH COLUMBIA

Lions bring back Joey Elliott in wake of Travis Lulay's shoulder injury

09/18/2013 12:36 EDT | Updated 11/18/2013 05:12 EST
SURREY, B.C. - It's a good thing Joey Elliott never left town when the B.C. Lions released him earlier this month.

Elliott did not have to travel far Wednesday as the Lions welcomed him back to help deal with starting quarterback Travis Lulay's shoulder injury.

"Why not be in a beautiful place, right?" said Elliott, a 27-year-old Franklin, Ind., native. "I had shipped some stuff home, like my shoulder pads and some extra cleats, and I had actually packed some things up. So it was going to take a little while before I could actually get out of here."

Elliott was added to the Lions' roster in preparation for Sunday's game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina. His return followed Tuesday's announcement that Lulay will miss the next two games after getting hurt last weekend in a win over Montreal.

Elliott is the second former quarterback to return to the Lions recently, following Buck Pierce's arrival via trade from Winnipeg last week.

As a result, Elliott's coaching career is on hold. He had tentative plans to mentor a high school team in Indiana, but continued to live in his Burnaby, B.C., apartment while waiting for a chance to resume his CFL career.

Elliott reasoned that it would be easier to travel if the call came, and he did not want to have to "jump ship" on high school players.

"It would be a lot harder on those kids than it is on me," said Elliott. "I've been in the situation before."

The Lions released Elliott before acquiring Pierce. Prior to his release, Elliott served as B.C.'s third-string quarterback, but did not see any action.

He is slated to retain his No. 3 position behind Pierce and second-year pro Thomas DeMarco, the anticipated starter Sunday. But Elliott will sport No. 12 on his jersey after Pierce took his former No. 11.

Still, Elliott said he was "really excited" to get another opportunity with B.C. With an expansion team coming next season in Ottawa, he reasoned that it was better to keep his name in the league.

"It's part of the business," Elliott said. "My dad (who is a football coach) and I talked about it. The first 48 hours, I was a little down about (being released and not getting a call from another team). But at the end of the day, the guys you care about are in the locker-room."

Elliott was greeted with hugs from some of his teammates. Coach Mike Benevides was also glad to have him back because of his knowledge of B.C.'s offensive system and CFL experience.

"You have to be honest with people," Benevides said. "And, basically, when he was released, it was based on game experience, and (overall) experience, and I told him we were looking for more experience. Certainly, Buck brings that to the table. Now, the reason (Elliott) is here is based on experience."

Elliott passed for 2,101 yards to go along with five touchdowns and 12 interceptions with Winnipeg in 2012. He joined the Blue Bombers late in the 2010 season with Winnipeg and missed most of 2011 with a knee injury before he produced decent results last season — only to be released.

Without Pierce and Elliott, the Lions would have had to go with two quarterbacks who have less than two CFL seasons between them. DeMarco, a 24-year-old Californian who has only completed 15-of-24 passes for 148 yards with a touchdown, which came last weekend in a win over Montreal, and no interceptions in his brief CFL tenure.

B.C.'s fourth QB, rookie Chris Hart, has spent most of the season on the practice roster.

Pierce, a product of New Mexico State, is in his ninth CFL season of an injury-riddled career. He has appeared in 114 career games, passing for 15,059 yards and 73 touchdowns with 62 interceptions. He has also rushed for 1,666 yards on 229 carries (7.3-yard average) and scored 13 TDs.

He spent his first five CFL seasons with the Lions and helped them win a Grey Cup in 2006. He also guided Winnipeg to the 2011 Grey Cup game, which they lost to B.C.

But even with two signal-callers ahead of him on the depth chart, Elliott is making sure that he is ready if called upon. The Purdue alumnus recalled a two-week span with Winnipeg in which he went from the fourth quarterback to starter.

"If you're dressed (for a game) and you're in pads and you're in shoes, you never know," said Elliott.