ASU alum Corey Leonard is 4th QB on BC Lions depth chart
June 24, 2011 at 5:14 AM CDT - Updated June 24 at 12:12 PM
VANCOUVER (Vancouver Sun) - The most important things in the search for a quarterback aren't statistics or proficiency ratings. They're expectation and hope – otherwise, Mike Reilly might be a candidate to start for the B.C. Lions next Thursday in Montreal, and Corey Leonard would be on his way home to Covington, Louisiana.
Leonard, a rookie, completed just one of 13 passes and threw two interceptions in his brief body of preseason work over two games, a stat line which could have easily placed him in the unemployment line along with seven others. Running back Michael Smith, WR Jared Perry, DL Keyon Brown, LB Ronnie McCullough and three non-imports – OL Yannick Sage, FB Tim Cronk and DL Alex Ellis – were released Thursday by the CFL club as the Lions trimmed their training camp roster to get closer to the mandated 53-man limit.
Reilly, a second-year CFL player, is staying, that's not a surprise. What constitutes an eyebrow-raiser, though, is that head coach Wally Buono has decided to keep Leonard as the team's fourth quarterback and to park him on the practice or injured roster.
"CFL quarterbacks are built, they're cultivated, they're not ready-made," Buono explained. "I'm trying to invest in the development of quarterbacks. For any organization, you need the ability to have an evolving door. Because quarterbacks are an evolving door. I believe, and the coaches believe, that the the guys we have . . . you've got to invest the time, and you've got to invest the resources, to give these guys a chance."
That statement represents a reprieve for Leonard, who was the only one of the Lions six quarterback candidates at the beginning of June who didn't take a snap last season. Still, Leonard was a four-year starter at Arkansas State; he's smart and athletic and a player with some pro potential, despite his nervousness and questionable decision-making in two appearances.
"They told me they wanted to keep me. And they were happy with the progress I made in a short period of time," Leonard said. "We [Buono and Leonard] were laughing about it this morning. In college, I made my living by scrambling, and making plays outside the pocket. I really haven't shown any glimpses of that in the preseason. Wally tells me, ‘Just take off, if you see a hole.' I really need to get back into that, not worry about the progressions and trying to act like a five-year vet."