Unlike most of their CFL peers this season, Kevin Glenn, 35, of the B.C. Lions and Ricky Ray, 34, of the Toronto Argonauts have escaped serious injury. They will continue their survival missions Friday when the Lions host the Argonauts at B.C. Place Stadium.
Glenn will attempt to lead the Lions (7-4) to their third consecutive win while Ray tries to help the Argos (3-8), who have lost four straight, bounce back from an embarrassing loss in Calgary, where they squandered a 29-10 half-time lead.
Glenn said he will be thinking as much about preserving his health by taking fewer hits to avoid miscues as he does about sustaining drives.
"I don't think it makes you any less of a football player if you don't (take a hit to get an extra yard) or you run out of bounds as a quarterback," said Glenn after a Lions walk-through Thursday at B.C. Place. "It's just because you want to be able to have longevity."
Glenn, Ray, and Ottawa's Henry Burris, the league's oldest QB at 39, are the only CFL starting signal-callers who have avoided missing games due to injury this season. B.C. lost Travis Lulay to a repeat shoulder injury in the only game he started this season while Glenn served as the backup.
"It's one of those things where I've never seen anything like it in terms of how (quarterback injuries) have occurred," said Lions coach Mike Benevides. "It's been some freak things. It's also been, in my opinion, some guys making some bad decisions — and some bad luck. But, for us, as I said way back when, we're fortunate to have (Glenn.)"
Ray and Glenn rank among the league's top QBs. Ray, who has completed 270 of 398 passes leads the league in touchdowns with 20 and ranks second in passing yards (2,922). Glenn, who the Lions acquired as quarterback insurance from Ottawa due to Lulay's injury, has completed 181 of 283 passes for a fourth-best 2,412 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Glenn will have to do more with less in terms of experienced receivers. Slotback Courtney Taylor, who has a team-high 45 receptions, will sit out with a foot injury while rookie Bryan Burnham comes off the practice roster to make his CFL debut in place of him.
Ray has already excelled despite injuries to key receivers, including Chad Owens, who will return Friday after being sidelined with a leg injury suffered in an Aug. 23 loss to Edmonton. Owens was sidelined earlier in the season with a foot injury and has played in just four games to date, but still leads the Argo receiving corps with 35 receptions for 431 and two TDs.
Accordingly, the Lions expressed more concern about controlling Ray than his pass-catchers. Unlike many of Ray's critics, Lions defensive line coach Carl Hairston praised the Toronto QB for being elusive.
"He's a guy that you've gotta keep under control, because he's gonna scramble," said Hairston. "And when he scrambles, he's gonna find somebody open. I think he's a great quarterback. What I like about him is, he progresses. He'll go from one receiver to another."
Hairston, a former NFL pass rusher who is among this year's nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said Ray has managed to avoid injury by knowing how to handle contact.
"He's like someone who took tumbling classes," said Hairston. "So he knows how to fall. He knows how to take a hit. That's why he has been successful for a long time, because he knew how to protect his body."
Notes — Benevides said Lions defensive back Ryan Phillips, who has played 173 consecutive games since entering the CFL in 2005, will be a game-time decision due to a hamstring injury suffered against Winnipeg. Phillips, who was criticized by Benevides for not running full out during a practice this week, said he feels ready to play. … Former Lions Bret Anderson, Glen Jackson, Jim Mills, James Parker and Laurent Deslauriers were among Friday's inductees into the B.C. Hall of Fame. … Taylor has been placed on B.C.'s six-game injured list.