Johnson: Seeing a resting Tate raises red flags
But quarterback insists he’s just taking it easy on his banged-up forearm and will be ready to play Sunday
The sight of Drew Tate, hands stuffed into the front pouch-pocket of his practice jersey, reduced to the role of passive spectator watching Kevin Glenn and Bo Levi Mitchell take the snaps, the reps, make the throws, had tongues a’ waggling as the Calgary Stampeders reconvened Wednesday at McMahon Stadium.
The possibilities that image hinted at triggered harried texts to offices. Warning flares fired off into the bright blue southern Alberta sky. There was even a rumour someone tipped off Wolf Blitzer at CNN.
On the heels of the flap over a monstrous head hit from Tea George, Tate’s misconstrued amnesia remarks and his subsequent clarifying statement, it was only natural that alarm bells began jangling.
“The head,” marvelled Tate afterwards, “was never an issue. The power of the media is something. I tell ya what, I could tell y’all anything and y’all’d go crazy.
“Whatever you all say, people believe it. It’s crazy.”
BTW: The issue is a forearm.
Not a forehead.
“It’s a little sore,” he confessed of his arm. “They just wanted to keep me out today. So we’ll see where we’re at tomorrow and go from there. I don’t even know what play (the injury happened on). Couldn’t tell you. It’s been sore since after the game.”
Tate didn’t so much as blink an eye when asked if he thought he’d be back full-throttle for Thursday’s practice:
“I plan on it.”
His boss, John Hufnagel, is counting on his presence, too.
What Drew Tate is most eager to do at the moment is put the controversy of a possible concussion behind him, immediately if not sooner, and direct all his attention to preparing for a B.C. Lions’ defence that ranked first in virtually every major statistical category this season.
“It was just a joke,” Tate pleaded of his comment that he couldn’t remember a thing about the first half of the semifinal last Sunday. ”I can’t help how y’all take it.
“If that was a concussion, then I’ve got about 30 of those. Because I’ve been dinged a lot since I’ve been playing. I’ve never had a problem with it before. It’s just fine. I could understand there was an issue if I didn’t know what I was doing. I knew what I was doing. So that’s why I felt comfortable about what I was doing: Next play.
“We’re moving on, man. Moving on to B.C. That’s what’s important.
“They’re the best team in the league. They’re the champs. They’re going to be all excited to have us after the last time we played them here (a 41-21 Calgary spanking). Our margin for error is even slimmer now. Everyone on the 42 is gonna have to be ready to go. Anything that happens, we’ve got to have a plan for. Play fast, attack and play mistake-free.”
The Stamps arrive for their divisional showdown propelled forward by the momentum of a five-game win streak and the late, dramatic ouster of Saskatchewan this past weekend; the Lions off a bye week that allowed them to rest and heal. Meaning both Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce III are good to go Sunday.
So opinion is invariably split on which is the best way to segue into a win-or-else game.
“Yeaaaaah . . . I don’t know,” hedged Tate. “It can go either way. When we had the bye week here in ’10 we came out and laid an egg against Sask. I don’t think there’s any answers for the best scenario. It’s just about going out and executing on the day.
“I want to have a higher completion percentage and see the field better. But (last Sunday)’s the full 60-minute game I’ve played since the Winnipeg game last year at home. So, you know, I’m a little rusty. I’m trying. Sorry if I’m not where y’all want me to be.
“Everything about it, from my vision to my execution to my sharpness, it all needs to be stepped up a level. A lot of the balls I threw up you can’t against B.C. because they have better ball-skill guys in the back end. They have the biggest front four you’ll find, four or five linebackers that do really good, a lot of movement when they go three down linemen. And their back end is all vets that sit there and read routes, try to jump you.”
The No. 1 quarterback’s absence from the drills at least slightly muted the rabid fervour over the Nik Lewis tweet controversy. Lewis’ really, really, really dumb tweet of Monday night put him squarely in the crosshairs as practices resumed. In the wake of the furor, coach/GM John Hufnagel acknowledged that he’s asked, politely but firmly, that his players desist from such interaction until this season ends.
Tate shrugged as to whether that was a good idea or not.
“Uh, I guess so. It depends on how anyone takes it. We just want to play football. That’s all that’s on anyone’s mind.
“I mean, I don’t think Nik really cares. I sure as hell don’t care.”
No, actually, he doesn’t. After blaming a brief fling on Facebook when he was at Iowa for a downturn in his play, he’s left social media to the masses. So as an avowed 140-character atheist, the one place you won’t find Drew Tate, giving the world the latest lowdown on his sore forearm or any other topic, is on Twitter.
“Uh uh,” he tut-tutted admoninishly. “Sorry, I don’t play that game. I pick and choose my battles. And I’m not fighting that one.”
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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