VANCOUVER - With news out of Edmonton Tuesday that running back Jerome Messam is done for the season with a torn meniscus, it would seem the B.C. Lions have one less threat to worry about come Sunday in the West Division final.
But that's not how the CFL's best regular season team is looking at it.
In fact, defensive back Dante Marsh would have preferred to face Messam, a former Lions teammate and a player who was third in the CFL this season with 1,057 yards.
"I'm pretty sure he wanted to play if he could have and we wanted him to play," Marsh said. "Sorry to hear that he's out but it didn't make a difference who was running back. That's not going to change or deviate our plans. We got to stop the run and keep Ricky Ray panicking."
That's the kind of mindset Solomon Elimimian also has.
"Messam or not Messam, we still have to win," the hard-hitting linebacker said. "Outside of quarterback, I don't think one player can impact the game that much. (Hugh Charles) is a different threat. He's more of a speedster, real quick. They like to use him in different formations so it's going to be a challenge trying to contain him."
The Eskimos will also use Calvin McCarty, a player Marsh says is just as good a running back as Messam, if not better.
As for the matchup, the Lions won three of four meetings against the Eskimos this season, with two of those victories coming at BC Place.
B.C. also outscored the Eskimos by a combined 53-points in those three wins. But none of that matters now.
"Any given Sunday right?" said Marsh. "You want to put yourself in a state of confidence but understand that they aren't going to lay down and it's not going to be the exact same result. It's a new game, it's a new season."
Quarterback Travis Lulay said the entire team is also approaching the do-or-die game the same way — as if they've never faced the Eskimos before.
"At this point, it's going to come down to who plays better on game day," he said. "We know we have to earn every single thing. Nothing is going to come easy because of what's happened in the past. This is a clean slate."
APOLOGY FROM ARLAND:
Arland Bruce did not elaborate to the media Tuesday on his confrontation with the police following a parking infraction over the weekend. But the receiver did apologize to his teammates before practice.
"I don't think there was a need for an apology but I addressed the team as a man," he said. "If it was a distraction to anybody, I wanted to see them face to face and let them know, 'Hey look, I'm not being selfish.' I just want to move forward."
Bruce was detained early Sunday morning after a verbal altercation with Vancouver Police. He was not charged.