Lions pivot Vernon Adams Jr. credits former teammate Trevor Harris for getting his game prep in step

Vernon Adams Jr. says of Trevor Harris: “I don’t need to throw it all out there, but he’s taught me a lot. He’s helped me prepare better and study and know what to look for.”

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Call it Vernon Adams Jr.’s weekly one-man dress rehearsal.

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As part of their coverage of the B.C. Lions’ 33-26 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week, TSN showed a clip of Adams on the field in street clothes long before the match-up. The Lions quarterback had a list of plays on a card in his hand and he was going over calling the game in his mind, visualizing leading the offence up and down the turf. 

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It’s something that he spends 15-20 minutes on every game day, Adams says. It’s part of his weekly study. And he admits that he didn’t stress preparation to this extent until working with veteran CFL pivot Trevor Harris for parts of 2021-22 seasons with the Montreal Alouettes.

Adams joined the Lions via an Aug. 31, 2002 trade wth Montreal, brought in to take over for an injured Nathan Rourke. Harris, 37, jumped from the Alouettes to the Roughriders as a free agent this past off-season. After Harris suffered what looked to be a season-ending knee injury in July during a game between Saskatchewan and the Calgary Stampeders, Adams talked about how hard it was to watch because of the way Harris had mentored him, including with game preparation.

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“When I was in high school and college, I didn’t really prepare. I just played. When I got up here, I didn’t really learn how to prepare until working with Trevor Harris,” Adams, 30, a former collegiate standout at both Eastern Washington and Oregon who is in his seventh CFL season, explained after practice earlier this week. 

“He taught me how to be a quarterback. He taught me what to look for. He taught me a lot. I don’t need to throw it all out there, but he’s taught me a lot. He’s helped me prepare better and study and know what to look for.

“Pretty much my whole career I had been doing it off of athletic ability and just trusting it and reacting off of what I would see.”

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Adams is prepping this week for what has to be the showcase game of the CFL season to date — a Friday showdown at B.C. Place between the Lions (11-4-0) and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-4-0). 

The winner takes over sole possession of top spot in the West Division with two weeks to go in the regular season, and also takes the head-to-head tiebreaker between the teams, since B.C. won the opener of their three-game season series 30-6 on June 22 and Winnipeg took the middle match-up 50-14 on Aug. 3.

First place gets a first-round bye and automatically plays host to the Western Final. For the Lions, that would mean having the controlled climate of B.C. Place as opposed to having to deal with what wild weather Winnipeg could have in store that time of year.

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Friday’s game could also have a barring on the outcome of the West Division nominee for CFL Most Outstanding Player. 

Adams goes into the week leading the CFL in passing yardage (4,005) and sitting second in the touchdown throws (28). Winnipeg pivot Zach Collaros is third in yardage (3,738) and first in the touchdowns (30).

Adams (284-of-412, 68.9 per cent) is third in completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts, Collaros (247-of-365, 67.7 per cent) is fifth. Adams (16) has thrown the most interceptions, Collaros (14) the third most.

Adams does have a decided edge in rushing. He has run for 302 yards on 44 carries. Collaros is 69 yards on 12 attempts.

Adams admits he is hearing the MOP discussion. 

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“But at the end of the day, I just want to win (Friday). I want to win one game at a time, and I want to win the ultimate goal,” he said.

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He lists the Winnipeg defence as a “a veteran group who flies around. … They trust their scheme and they do it well.” He believes that a key for the Lions will be not overthinking the moment.

“We have to trust what we’ve been doing. Don’t change anything, don’t try doing anything extra that you haven’t been doing. Do what you do on the normal. We’ve been playing some good football this last month,” he said.

Adams is the reigning CFL Honour Roll offensive player of the week for his efforts against Saskatchewan, which saw him go 27-of-36 for 458 yards, with three touchdowns. It was his sixth game of 300-plus yards in his past seven contests.

Adams’ best season in the CFL prior to this one came in 2019, when he passed for 3,942 yards and 24 touchdowns for Montreal.

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