SURREY, B.C. – Lavelle Hawkins couldn’t believe his luck.
The veteran receiver with the B.C. Lions was going through the paces on the very first day of his first CFL training camp this spring when he suffered a broken arm during a drill, putting the latest chapter of his football career on hold before it had a chance to get off the ground.
“I had my mojo back,” the native of Stockton, Calif., recalled Tuesday. “The first day I was like … ‘Are you serious?'”
The Lions placed Hawkins, who played for the Tennessee Titans from 2008 to 2012 prior to bouncing between four NFL teams over the next two seasons, on the six-game injured list.
The 29-year-old with a distinctive scar on his left forearm from the break was moved to the one-game injured list last month and will finally make his B.C. debut on Thursday when the Lions (3-5) visit the Montreal Alouettes (4-5).
“I’m excited to get out there with the fellas, just to get out there and get involved,” said Hawkins, who caught 71 passes for 771 yards and one touchdown during his five years with the Titans. “These guys have been working their butts off. I’m just happy to be able to come out and help.”
A Lions’ offence that has struggled for much of the season — it ranks second last in yards per game and third last in passing yards — needs all the help it can get.
Running back Andrew Harris has been one of the lone bright spots, but opponents have keyed on him during two straight losses, including a 23-13 home defeat to Montreal on Aug. 20.
The Lions are coming off a bye week and have made a couple of moves to try to spark their attack and stretch defences, including the release of tight end A.C. Leonard, the promotion of wide receiver Bryan Burnham to the first team and activating Hawkins.
“It marks a little bit of a change of philosophy for us,” said quarterback Travis Lulay. “We want to be more productive on offence and add a couple elements that haven’t been on the roster for us that we think have a chance to make a positive difference.”
Lions head coach Jeff Tedford, who worked with Hawkins during their time in the NCAA with the California Golden Bears and again last season when both were with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in training camp, is excited to see him back in game action.
“Lavelle’s a pro. He’s been around football a long time,” said Tedford. “He has a lot of ability, speed, agility (and) quickness.”
Hawkins stayed with the Lions during most of his injury rehabilitation and said it will take more than just him to right what has been an up-and-down first eight games for B.C.
“I’m just a football player. That’s it,” he said. “It’s just about clicking. It doesn’t matter what kind of athletes you’ve got. If it’s not clicking it’s going to be tough.”
Notes: Burnham will likely take the spot of Courtney Taylor in the lineup. … The Alouettes held Harris to just 10 yards on eight carries when the teams last met. … Former Montreal running back Chris Rainey, who was cut by the Alouettes in training camp, signed with B.C. last week and looks set to be the Lions’ punt returner on Thursday.
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