Champing at the bit

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

Jermaine Chatman wants back into the Stampeders lineup so bad he can taste it.

And considering the defensive back's jaw has been wired shut the past three weeks, that's about all he's been savouring lately.

The first-year Stampeders cornerback is doing his best to find the humour in another gloomy day without the joy of eating solid food since being rocked by the forearm of rugged B.C. receiver Jason Clermont.

The resulting broken jaw not only scratched Chatman from the Stampeders lineup, it's also relegated him to slurping every mashed up morsel at mealtime through a syringe.

"Oh yeah, it's killing me," notes Chatman, who has lost six lb., from his rather slender 5-ft. 11-in., 176-lb. frame.

"I'm trying to mix it up so I don't get sick of eating the same thing.

"I eat boneless chicken breasts, put it inside chicken noodle soup or I try all kinds of stuff like a lot of mashed potatoes and gravy.

"At first I went home to Los Angeles for a little while and my Grandmother made me some pretty good soup and that worked out well. But when I came back up here, I went to see my surgeon who gave me a new syringe that has a larger hole. It allows me to chop up meat real fine and eat it so I'm keeping my weight up pretty good now. I've lost a few pounds but not too much. I eat a lot of protein shakes, high-calorie, high-protein shakes."

Chatman squeezes the syringe through the side of his mouth into a gap in his teeth, the result of some emergency dental work.

"They had to take the wisdom tooth out in the back at the bottom because it was turned to the side," mumbles Chatman, 25.

"Now I can get the syringe through there."

Chatman's first look at the CFL had been a surprisingly smooth transition until the injury occurred. Despite being unable to participate full contact drills, Chatman has been working out at practice, maintaining his strength and fitness level for his eventual return.

"I'm in the best shape of my life," boasts the University of Arizona product.

"I haven't been out that long and I still feel good running around. Nothing's wrong with the rest of my body. I'm in good shape, so I try to do as much running as I can and try to breath (through my nose)."

Chatman had become a steady addition to the revamped secondary that was improving every week before a rash of injuries forced several changes.

"I thought I was learning things well, picking up on the CFL game and I feel I have a lot to build on and keep getting better once I get back," says Chatman, who expects to return to action for the Hamilton game Sept. 17.

Halfbacks Anthony Malbrough and Pascal Masson should return for the Labour Day Classic while cornerback Ben Kelly is also expected back in the lineup, although veteran halfback Joey Boese (hamstring) is out for at least another week.

The trickle of healthy bodies back into onto the field is a relief for secondary coach Tim Burke, who is also anxious to see Chatman's return.

"He wants to be out there so bad but until he gets cleared by the oral surgeon, there's not much we can do," Burke says.

"Until we get Jermaine and Joey back, we can't say we're at full strength.

"If we can get everybody healthy for the last part of the season we're going to be pretty good in the secondary."

Once Chatman finally removes the cumbersome wires, he's making a beeline to the nearest restaurant.

"I love seafood so I'm going to go to Red Lobster and tear it up," Chatman says, fighting to flash a smile. "Crab legs, lobster, everything. I'm going to be in there.

"Everything I see now on TV that I can't eat, I'm just going to get it all in one day."


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