Lions lure Thelwell out of retirement
By HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency
|By signing Ryan Thelwell, the injury-riddled Lions are bringing a familiar face out of retirement to provide depth. (Darren Makowichuk/QMI Agency/Files)
VANCOUVER - The B.C. Lions' 2006 Grey Cup-winning team is reuniting. Well, not exactly.
With the signing Tuesday of receiver Ryan Thelwell, the injury-riddled Lions are bringing a familiar face out of retirement to provide depth.
It helps that the experienced Thelwell, who played with B.C. from 2001 to 2006 and the Calgary Stampeders from 2007 to 2010, has a good understanding of the team's system.
"For the most part, things are still the same," said Thelwell, who grew up in London, Ont., and now lives in Calgary. "I couldn't be in a more exciting situation. (Coach Wally Buono) basically said that he has a couple guys nicked up and they wanted to bring somebody in that they trusted."
The Lions have 14 players hurting, with rookie receiver Akeem Foster and running back Andrew Harris not expected to play Saturday against the Edmonton Eskimos at BC Place. Thelwell, who didn't see a lot of first-unit reps at Tuesday's practice, noted he's still getting his timing back.
"I'm not going to lie, it's a little awkward," he said. "(But) I've always been quick to get into shape. I didn't really let myself go. I've been chasing my three kids around, so I feel fine."
Thelwell's best season was 2005 with B.C. when he had 1,035 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
The 38-year-old hasn't played since last year's Western final with Calgary. He called it quits with 6,278 career receiving yards and 39 touchdowns and worked in sales for an oil and gas company, Canadian Chemical Technology.
When he got the call from player personnel co-ordinator Neil McEvoy while driving back from Saskatoon over the weekend - where he was coaching the Calgary Colts junior team - he thought it was a joke. But when told what the team was looking for and what his role would be, he jumped all over it.
"You don't really get opportunities like this, it doesn't come very often," he said.
Buono said Thelwell will play Saturday, although in what capacity is uncertain.
"He's fresh," Buono said. "It's not going to take him long to pick up what we're doing, and if you have to put him into a game, you know he'll be able to adapt."