Injury adds to QB debate

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

It's funny how things work out.

The whole controversy about whether or not Danny McManus should be the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' starting quarterback could be headed in a different direction.

McManus may be sidelined after suffering a thumb injury in his throwing hand in the Tiger-Cats' 36-30 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday. McManus had been scheduled yesterday to undergo an X-ray and see a hand specialist to determine the full extent of the injury. The thumb came out of the socket but was placed back in it, however the early indication is the 40-year-old McManus may have a bone bruise or some ligament damage, either of which could sideline the quarterback indefinitely.

That could put either Marcus Brady or Khari Jones in as the interim starter, perhaps even longer.

Acquired in a trade with Toronto prior to the start of the regular season last year, the 25-year-old Brady hasn't been able to convince the team's football operations he is an improvement on McManus, although he did well in relief against Edmonton. Brady came off the bench after McManus' injury early in the third quarter and immediately tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chris Brazzell. Brady completed 15 of 24 passes, two for touchdowns, for 160 yards. He also served up an interception.

Brady might have thrown a third touchdown pass, one that could have resulted in a win, had receiver Craig Yeast hauled in a deep pass behind coverage.

The Tiger-Cats dropped to 0-5, last in the league, and added another element to the whole discussion about the team's quarterbacking.

Prior to Saturday's game, Brady had been virtually ignored by the Tiger-Cats, despite some obvious struggles by McManus. When Brady turned the ball over twice in only four series in one of the Tiger-Cats' previous games, it did little to elevate his sagging stock and contributed to the signing of 33-year-old free-agent quarterback Jones.

He joined the Tiger-Cats on Monday and had limited opportunities to work with his new teammates and fully absorb the playbook. Tiger-Cats' head coach Greg Marshall and offensive co-ordinator Jamie Baressi had talked earlier in the week about who to insert if McManus suffered an injury and considered Jones, but ultimately decided on Brady when forced to make a quick decision.

The injury came at a time when the much-maligned McManus started to show signs of improvement after throwing six interceptions and only one touchdown pass in the team's first four games. There had been cries from the fans and some critics -- including this one -- to switch quarterbacks, if only to try something different. But the Tiger-Cats stuck with McManus and adjusted their offensive philosophy by allowing the veteran to call his own plays rather than take direction from second-year co-ordinator Baressi.

CALLING PLAYS

Baressi may end up calling the plays again, depending on the seriousness of McManus' injury.

As for Brady, this may be his chance to receive some quality playing time and establish his long-term future with the team. Brady's time in Toronto was marked by some struggles as a starter but repeated success coming off the bench.

Jones will also be more prepared with his second week of practice should the Tiger-Cats elect to start him. He was voted the Canadian Football League's Most Outstanding Player in 2001 with Winnipeg but his career steadily declined after the 2002 season, a product of a wonky shoulder and being the wrong person at the wrong time in stops with Calgary and Edmonton.

With the uncertainty of McManus' playing status due to the thumb injury, Jones' signing came not a moment too soon.

It really is funny how things work out. 


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