Grace expects air show

Stampeders linebacker John Grace hopes to keep Edmonton pivot Ricky Ray under wraps once again this...

Stampeders linebacker John Grace hopes to keep Edmonton pivot Ricky Ray under wraps once again this Sunday when Calgary hosts the Eskimos. (Calgary Sun File Photo)

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

The last six quarters he has faced Ricky Ray, John Grace watched as the star quarterback struggled to find open receivers.

But that was six games ago and much has changed for the both the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos.

Since the Labour Day loss at home to the Eskimos, Calgary has found a groove on both offence and defence and ran off wins in six of seven games, three straight since No. 1 quarterback Henry Burris returned from injury.

In that time, Edmonton acquired 2004 rushing leader Troy Davis and offensive lineman Dan Comiskey from Hamilton, rattling off three straight wins of its own.

So Grace is expecting a much different look from the Eskimos offence for Sunday's season finale at McMahon Stadium.

Gone will be the constant deep routes on both sides of the field, in which the Stamps shut down for the Labour Day rematch and picked off Ray three times.

"They're not bad enough as coaches to think they can do the same thing again," Grace said. "As a defence, we will practise what we do well and not what they do well.

"They're not going to do the same thing twice. In the two times we played them, we had some great success against what they were doing. We don't know what we're going to get now.

"When they come out against us, it will be something we've never seen."

When Davis showed up with the Eskimos, the club ran him hard in a win over the Argonauts. Since then, his carries have dropped from 19 in the first game, then 17 against Saskatchewan to just four in the victory over B.C.

So Grace isn't worried about that aspect of the Esks' offence because he figures the Stamps can focus on the passing routes.

"Their issue isn't running the ball," Grace said.

"(Head coach Danny) Maciocia is a passing coach and he doesn't like to run the ball.

"Once he secures a big lead, that's when he starts running the ball. I'm pretty sure they'll try some different passing schemes to put them in second and short."

A win over Edmonton Sunday would put the Eskimos in third and give the Stamps a unique situation of having to play back-to-back weeks with the same team for the second time in a single season.

There will be plenty of game-planning adjustments all throughout the first contest and cards will be kept close the vest if it appears a second meeting is in order.

Former Eskimo and now Stamps defensive lineman Randy Chevrier said this situation has never happened to him before and intensity will build Sunday and continue to a boiling point the next week.

"One year is going to end this week and the new season starts the week after," Chevrier said. "It doesn't matter what happens next week. You can beat a team 10 times in a row but it's the last one that matters."

EXTRA POINTS: Both QB Jason Gesser and returner/WR Terrence Wilkins participated in rundown yesterday and should be fit to play against the Eskimos. DB Shane Walton also worked out and could be ready to return from an injured back, which would leave only C Jamie Crysdale (knee) on the Stamps injured list this week ... WR Jeremaine Copeland's 70-catch on Calgary's first offensive play in Winnipeg was the longest of his career ... LB George White was the leading defensive tackler against the Bombers, notching nine to bring his team-leading total to 105. White trails only Toronto's Kevin Eiben (107) for the CFL lead ... The Stamps have 47 sacks on the season, one ahead of the Eskimos as the teams get prepared to face each other in the season finale.


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