Secondary ready to chew up 'Gades

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Fresh off its best stretch of the season, the Calgary Stampeders secondary can't wait to take a bite out of Kerry Joseph and the Ottawa Renegades.

It will do so with the help of first-half MVP Jermaine Chatman, who will also chew on everything he possibly can this week.

Chatman's jaw was unwired yesterday, giving him the chance to eat solid food for the first time in more than a month. It also meant Chatman was back practising with the first-team unit.

He'll draw into a lineup that has been nothing short of sparkling in three straight contests. Denny Creehan's defence has held the opposition to one offensive touchdown in each of the last three games, plus picked off six passes in the last two.

And the secondary, which was in turmoil because of injuries just a month ago, is becoming a physical, frightening unit with Chatman on the sidelines fighting off jealousy.

"We made a lot of changes in our coverages," said Chatman. "I'm really proud of the guys because they've gone out there and done a great job.

"But I still feel like I have something to add ... I feel I can get my hands on a couple of those balls. It's been killing me to be sitting there all the time watching."

Stamps secondary coach Tim Burke is excited to have Chatman back, a player he considers the best performer of the defensive backs before he got hurt.

Even with the unit playing so well, Burke won't hesitate to put Chatman in at corner and let him square off against the Renegades leading receiver, Jason Armstead.

"He's pumped up," Burke said. "The great thing about Jermaine is he's a heck of a competitor.

"He's excited to go up against Armstead this week. Armstead is a heck of a receiver. He really likes those kind of challenges. He will be a bonus for us."

Burke had to watch halfback Joey Boese limp off the practice field clutching his hamstring yesterday. Boese returned from injury for the game in Hamilton but because his hamstring was torn, trainer Pat Clayton told Boese to expect small setbacks.

Anthony Malbrough is also no closer to returning from his hamstring injury but both Coby Rhinehart and Shane Walton have played too well to get benched at this point.

Walton put his mitts on three balls against Hamilton.

With Trey Young emerging as a solid safety, the secondary is matching the rest of the defence in very showing little weakness.

The challenge Thursday will be to make Joseph pass the ball. Ottawa's quarterback is fourth in the league in rushing with 709 yards.


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