WINNIPEG — While the Winnipeg Blue Bombers remain Chris Streveler’s team for now, the feeling exists the 24-year-old quarterback is on borrowed time.
Especially after the organization this week acquired veteran pivot Zach Collaros in a deal from Toronto, moments before the Canadian Football League’s trade deadline expired.
Collaros, who hasn’t played since the opening game this season after he suffered yet another concussion while with Saskatchewan, wasn’t dressed for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Alouettes at Investors Group Field (4 p.m., TSN, RDS, CJAD Radio-800).
He only arrived here on Thursday and has been hunkered down in meetings attempting to learn the Bombers’ offence since then. For now, Collaros — believed to have been medically cleared to play, although he was scheduled for a medical on Friday — is on the one-game injured list.
“This is Chris Streveler’s team to lead,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea stated on Friday, perhaps trying his best to convince a room filled with media.
“He (Collaros) is on the team. He’s involved. He got in (Thursday) and is learning the playbook. That’s his job now, to figure out our terminology and ask the questions he needs to ask. There are some concepts he’s very familiar with,” O’Shea added.
“He’s coming in as a veteran presence.”
In the days leading up to the trade deadline, O’Shea intimated the organization wouldn’t make a move — although it has been reported general manager Kyle Walters approached both Kevin Glenn and Drew Willy, former Als, who spurned the overtures.
O’Shea, rightfully so, indicated the difficulties behind working a player into the system — especially a quarterback — this late in the regular season.
But with Bombers’ starting pivot Matt Nichols out for the season with a shoulder injury, the team’s left with only Streveler and rookie Sean McGuire, who’s a year younger and has never attempted a CFL pass.
Winnipeg might have made do with that combination, but Streveler has struggled this year, winning only two of his six starts, while being intercepted 10 times.
“I don’t know if I feel like it’s my team. I’m playing this week,” Streveler said. “Every week, I’ve taken a step forward and feel more comfortable being a leader. I feel really good about where we are as a team and my position, being the quarterback. I’m excited to keep moving forward with this group.”
While Streveler said he appreciated the vote of confidence from O’Shea, he knows those kinds of statements can be fleeting. Streveler knows it comes down to winning — something he hasn’t accomplished nearly enough in 2019.
“I don’t know if I need the boost,” Streveler said. “Him (O’Shea) saying that I guess is good. But it’s more important to have conversations with my teammates. That gives me more confidence. Those are the guys I’m out there fighting with and the ones with whom I’m in the locker.
“It’s about winning. Whatever we have to do to win and make that post-season push, I’m all on-board for it. I want to be a good teammate. Whomever we bring in to help us win and bring some leadership, let’s do it.”
Streveler appeared in 12 games with Winnipeg, including three starts, last season. He passed for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns while being intercepted only five times. While he always has been regarded as a stronger runner than thrower, he proved to be a more than capable backup. But now he appears to be an inadequate starter.
“It comes down to a couple of plays here and there probably,” he said. “We’ve been in some close games. A couple of games we haven’t executed. I just want to win and I’m willing to do whatever it takes. And this team is. We don’t care what’s happened in previous weeks. I don’t care about stats. I care about winning. That’s all that matters to me.”
Collaros, 31, has passed for more than 16,000 yards while throwing for 92 touchdowns over eight CFL seasons. But he has a history of concussions and hasn’t thrown a pass in 2019. He had two reported head injuries last season and two reported concussions in 2016 and ’14.
Winnipeg acquired him and a fifth-round draft pick for a third-round selection in 2020. If Collaros, a potential free agent, re-signs with the Bombers, Toronto receives an additional first-round pick.