B.C. coach Mike Benevides confirmed Wednesday the Lions' guard will miss the rest of the season after suffering a devastating knee injury a night earlier in a loss to the Argonauts in Toronto.
"It's unfortunate, because he was having a great start to his career," said Benevides after the club returned to its Surrey, B.C., training facility. "It's unfortunate, but he's done for the year."
Fabien, a 22-year-old Calgary native, was injured when he was hit after a Travis Lulay pass was intercepted in a 38-12 loss to the Argos that ended B.C.'s winning streak at three games. A 2012 first-round draft choice (seventh overall), Fabien had quickly established himself as a starter this year after electing to return to the University of Calgary last season.
Fabien, who returned from Toronto with the team, is due to have an MRI exam on Thursday to determine the full extent of the damage and what surgery is needed.
"The (team) doctor said there were several (torn ligaments), or more than one, so we'll find out what happens after that," said Benevides.
Veteran Dean Valli, who replaced Fabien after he went down in Toronto, will assume the starting role when the Lions (3-2) host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1-4) on Monday.
"(Valli) stepped in and he did a wonderful job," said Benevides. "He's got tremendous experience. So he'll be the guy that steps in for us, and then Matt Albright is also there on game day for depth for us."
Benevides said the club has discussed bringing back veteran guard Jon Hameister-Ries, who has been plagued by injuries and has not been with the team this season. But it is unlikely that Hameister-Ries will be called back.
"Right now, we're going to focus on the guys we have in house, which would be Matt Albright and would be Angus Reid and would be, obviously, Dean (Valli) stepping in to play the guard position," said Benevides.
Veteran centre Reid has been placed on the nine-game injured reserve list due to a back injury that sidelined him early in training camp. But the Lions have the option of bringing him back early, if he is healthy.
Reid, 36, watched a practice Saturday while wearing his gear and holding his helmet. The Richmond, B.C., native's early return would allow Matt Norman, his replacement at centre, to shift back to the guard position. Norman played guard last season while splitting the year between the Lions and his University of Western Ontario teaching studies.
Albright, a 21-year-old rookie out of St. Mary's University, was drafted 42nd overall by B.C. this year.
Fabien was B.C.'s second Canadian rookie in two games to see his season end prematurely. Defensive back Matt McGarva, a 22-year-old Surrey, B.C., native, was also felled by a knee injury July 20 in a win over Edmonton, but his injury was not as apparent during the game and received little attention.
"It's one of those things where it's very unfortunate and sad for the athlete," said Benevides. "But they'll be stronger for it, and we'll have to adjust as a team."
Fabien's injury spoiled a run of relative good fortune by the offensive line, which was plagued by injuries last season after three guards, including Valli, went down in training camp but was managing well in spite of Reid's absence this year.
"Those guys were doing a really nice job working together, and we had a lot of continuity in that area, and certainly didn't get that done," said Benevides.
While Fabien starts to mend, Lions coaches, players and medical staff will also try to counsel him through the recovery process.
"It's very tough for any athlete to go through, you've gotta work him through it and try to get the guys who have been through it before, maybe, to speak to him," said Benevides. "It's not an easy process to go through, so we're there for him. He understands that, and I think he saw that from his teammates (Wednesday) morning on the plane."
Benevides hopes the revamped offensive line can help the Lions get into the end zone against Winnipeg. The Lions advanced within 10 yards of the Toronto goal-line on four occasions Tuesday, but had to settle for field goals.
"That's going to be a discussion point — there's no doubt," said Benevides adding the entire team needs to solve the problem.