CALGARY - Drew Tate was a backup for nearly three seasons, so he’s used to being brought along slowly.
So the fact there is no timeline for the Calgary Stampeders ‘No. 1’ quarterback’s next start, doesn’t bother him at all.
If Tate was being asked to come directly off the long-term injured list and jump back into action, that would be a much worse situation for the 27-year-old, laid-back Texan.
“It’s a process,” said Tate, who dressed as the third-string pivot Friday against the Edmonton Eskimos for the first time since injuring his left shoulder July 7.
“I’m glad coach (John Hufnagel) did it this way. Last year, Steven Jyles (with the Toronto Argonauts) came off the nine-game list and bam, he’s starting the first game back. They even cut the starter (Cleo Lemon).
“This is a better situation.
I felt like it would be go, go, go but they don’t really need me. If something happens and
I need to go in, I will be ready. I will have my mind right.”
When — or perhaps if — Tate gets the starting nod before the end of the 2012 season will be a delicate decision for Stamps GM/head coach Hufnagel.
Kevin Glenn has done an admirable job taking over from Tate when he went down with a dislocated shoulder in Week 2 and opted for surgery that kept him out 11 games.
The Stamps have won five of their last six games, and now have a first-place showdown Saturday in Vancouver against the B.C. Lions.
If completely healthy, Tate likely gives the Stamps their best chance to win the Grey Cup, but Hufnagel doesn’t have a plan for when to make the switch.
Or if he does, he doesn’t want to divulge those plans right now.
“I have no plans of doing that in the near future,” Hufnagel said about inserting Tate as the starter. “He needs to go from No. 3 to No. 2 first. We will go from there.
“We will find out more about his health this week. He only had two or three snaps in the one practice last week with the offensive team. He did some scout team. He will do more scout team and get a few more snaps with the offence. I will see how he’s throwing the ball and all that stuff.
“To me, it’s a non-issue. I will make a quarterback change when I want to make a quarterback change.”
Glenn has been around the CFL for 12 years, and has gone through several tough situations involving his playing time. He knew the deal when he came to Calgary. Tate was going to be the No. 1, and he would be the reliable No. 2.
Thanks to a hot streak lately, Glenn has raised his passer rating to 99.4, which is a career-high for him during a full season.
Had Glenn faltered, Tate would be playing as soon as he was physically capable. Now, only Hufnagel knows if that will be the case.
“You can write those stories on whether I made it harder for Huf,” Glenn said. “I’m just doing my job to the best of my ability.
“Looking back on it, Huf isn’t in the position he’s in (as GM and head coach) just because. He’s a great coach and is a great evaluator of talent. He’s been around a lot of football. For him to bring me on, it was like, ‘Hey, if Huf thinks I can give this team a boost, I’m good with that.’ ”
Compared with last year at this time, Glenn is much more confident in how things are going for him, even if he goes back to being the No. 2 man coming off the bench.
Down the stretch with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last season, head coach Marcel Bellefeuille was rotating between Glenn and Quinton Porter, almost arbitrarily using them as he wanted.
Hufnagel makes it clear where all his pivots stand, and right now Glenn is getting the ball.
“The thing that makes it a lot easier is knowing the situation,” Glenn said. “Last year, whether it was me or Quinton, if it was known to us, it would have made the situation a whole lot better.
“When both guys are uncertain of what is going to happen, it can mess up the mentality of the team. When you know what’s going on, it’s a whole lot easier.”
Don’t expect Tate to be lobbying to get back in the lineup, either. He’s smart enough to see the situation unfolding.
And he has no idea how to characterize his health, just that he will know when he’s fully ready, and that time isn’t now.
“We’ve won five of six, so there’s no need for me to come in and save the day,” Tate said. “Kevin is doing a great job with our offence.
“Our offence is starting to feel comfortable with each other. When Kevin came in earlier, it was new for him and new for everyone else. The guys really responded to each other. We’re winning games. As long as we’re doing that, everything is fine.”
On Twitter: @SUNIanBusby