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Veteran quarterback Dane Evans happy to play supporting role with B.C. Lions

Dane Evans and Vernon Adams Jr. are together again. The two quarterbacks became teammates Thursday night when the B.C. Lions acquired Evans from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick.

Dane Evans and Vernon Adams Jr. are together again.

The two quarterbacks became teammates Thursday night when the B.C. Lions acquired Evans from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick. Back in 2018, they attended the Ticats training camp before Adams, who was being converted to receiver, was released and Evans became incumbent Jeremiah Masoli's backup.

This time, though, Adams Jr. is entrenched as B.C.,'s starter, Evans, 29, expects to battle newcomer Dominque Davis for backup duties and is good with that.

"The first person I talked to after I got off the phone with the coaches (Thursday) was VA," Evans told reporters Friday. "I just told him, 'This is your team, I completely understand that. I want to do anything I can to help you,' much like I had done in the past with Jeremiah.

"It will be fun to see what we've each picked up along the way and bounce ideas off each other. I'm here to support him and even Dom. Dom's somebody who's been in the league for some time so he's got things to bring to the team and table as well."

For Evans, having three veteran quarterbacks engaged in a healthy competition can only help a team.

"I think if there's competition at the quarterback spot and it's healthy and done the right way, I don't see anything wrong with that," he said. "I've seen it work firsthand.

"I want to win a Grey Cup with B.C. … that's all I am about."

The trade came just over a year after Hamilton committed to Evans as its starter — signing him to a two-year deal — and allowed Masoli to join the Ottawa Redblacks as a free agent. Evans had started the Ticats' consecutive Grey Cup losses to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2019, 2021).

The six-foot-one, 218-pound Evans finished 305-of-457 passing (66.7 per cent) for 3,883 yards and 23 TDs last season. But he also led the CFL in interceptions (16), fumbles (eight) and fumbles lost (seven) while winning just six of 14 regular-season starts.

Hamilton (8-10) finished third in the East Division before losing 28-17 to the Montreal Alouettes in the conference semifinal. Shortly afterwards, the Ticats acquired the rights to veteran quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell from the Calgary Stampeders.

Evans' fate was sealed last month when Hamilton signed Mitchell, twice the CFL's outstanding player and a two-time Grey Cup champion, to a three-year deal.

"The biggest thing is it was a surprise to me, like everybody else," Evans said. "I was informed the day it happened and it wasn't really like being asked, it was like, 'This is going to happen.'

"I remember I got the phone call in the car with my wife and I didn't really say anything because it was so out of left field, I didn't see it.

"But at the end of the day I'm very happy with where I am now. They did what they did, they felt like it was what they needed to do and it's done."

Evans appeared in 63 career regular-season games with Hamilton. He completed 698-of-1,019 passes (67.6 per cent) for 8,807 yards with 45 touchdowns and 34 interceptions while rushing or 511 yards and 10 TDs on 125 carries (4.01-yard average).

While Evans' focus remains fixed on winning a Grey Cup with B.C., the 2023 championship game will be at Tim Hortons Field.

"I'll just let my play do the talking," Evans said. "(Winning Grey Cup in Hamilton) would be pretty sweet."

Evans said while his first preference was to go to B.C., there were other teams interested in acquiring him. That included the Grey Cup-champion Toronto Argonauts, who lost starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson this week to the USFL.

A move to Toronto would've been intriguing, given its long-standing rivalry with Hamilton and that the two teams will meet four times this season. The Lions and Ticats will square off twice (Aug. 26 at B.C. Place Stadium, Oct. 13 at Tim Hortons Field).

"They (Argos) have a great situation over there too," Evans said. "But I always felt (B.C.) is kind of the spot for me … I just felt something was calling me there.

"I feel a real strong connection to (Lions offensive coordinator Jordan Maksymic). The way he calls games is fantastic, I'm excited to get to learn from him and learn with him. I think it's the way it was supposed to be."

And despite the challenges of 2022, Evans said his confidence and psyche remain strong.

"The biggest thing I want to do and I think the biggest thing I have to do is I've got to earn my spot," Evans said. "Whatever it is, I want to earn my spot on this team.

"I don't want anything handed to me, I've never been that guy. I want the guys on the team to see how hard we work as quarterbacks and I think that would just spread throughout the team and create a really healthy environment."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2023.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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