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Grymes, Reilly prove Lions are in playful mood heading into final pre-season game

Aaron Grymes certainly appears to connect with Mike Reilly.

Reilly, the quarterback who was the B.C. Lions’ prized free-agent signing this winter, was standing before the assembled media in the team’s Surrey offices Thursday afternoon, talking up the pre-season finale against the Calgary Stampeders on Friday at B.C. Place Stadium.

Grymes, a defensive back who signed with the Leos as a free agent this winter as well after five seasons as a Reilly teammate with the Edmonton Eskimos, waded into the scrum at the end and got Reilly to recognize him for a question.

“Asking for a friend … ‘If my friend wanted to grow a really nice beard, do you have any tips for him?’ ” Grymes asked.

Grymes has a solid beard. Reilly’s just happens to be next-level. It’s a benchmark beard, and he was taking no flak from Grymes on Thursday.

“Your friend doesn’t look like he has a chance. Sorry man. You weren’t blessed,” said Reilly.

It’s still that time of year. It’s still the pre-season. Everybody’s happy, everybody’s in first place. The Lions are looking to rejuvenate their brand and looking to do it with new head coach DeVone Claybrooks and with Reilly, 34, leading the charge.

Reilly didn’t play in B.C.’s 22-7 exhibition loss on the road May 26 against the Eskimos, so this will be the only look Lions fans will get at him leading the controls against a rival before the season-opener June 15 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at B.C. Place.

Grymes, it would seem, gets Reilly better than most. Grymes was asked later Thursday what people should understand about Reilly that they likely don’t.

“I’m always impressed by his competitiveness. I tell him all the time that I hate him in practice,” Grymes, 28, explained. “As soon as I think I’ve jumped the route and I’ve got him beat, I don’t. He’s not throwing the interception. I love it in the game. In practice, I wish he’d throw me one. His competitive edge is unmatched.

“As a defensive player, when you see your quarterback taking shots and getting back up, willing to scramble, willing to make things happen even when the original play did not work, you want to play for an offence like that.

“He’s a good leader, but he doesn’t speak just to speak or speak because he’s the quarterback and he’s supposed to be the leader. It makes it that much more heartfelt, because you don’t hear his voice over-and-over again for no reason.”

It’s unclear how much Reilly might play Friday, but he did say that veterans want “get out there and feel the speed of the game again.”

“It is pre-season game. It’s not going to be quite up to regular-season speed and you know that, but it’s certainly faster than practices during training camp,” explained Reilly, the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2017 and someone who has thrown for at least 5,500 yards and 28 touchdowns in each of his last three seasons. “It’s always nice to get out there for a couple of drives and remember what it’s like to play against another team.

“This is a dress rehearsal in front of our home crowd. We want to come out and play well. But, in regards to how much I read into it, I don’t look at the numbers. I look at how the guys go out and operate together. That’s what I want to see.”

Reilly was a backup in B.C. from 2010-12. He admits that it will be “weird to be in the home locker-room.”

“I always had to stand in the tunnel with the visiting fans and get ready for the game,” he continued. “It will be a nice change to come to be on the home side. B.C. Place is a great place to play football games. I’ve always enjoyed it.”

It will also be the first up-close-and-personal look for Lions fans at the team under Claybrooks. He had been the Stamps’ defensive coordinator the past three seasons, highlighted by helping them capture the Grey Cup last campaign.

He’s expected to receive his Cup ring Friday as well.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Claybrooks said of getting his ring. “When you win one, you’re onto the next one. I’ll look at it and I’ll shine it and I’ll send a picture to my mom and then I’ll send it to her and I’ll let her deal with it.

“Once you hit one goal, you’re onto your next goal. My goal here is to win a championship with B.C.”


Friday | Pre-season

Calgary Stampeders at B.C. Lions

7 p.m., B.C. Place Stadium

Radio: TSN 1040 AM