Ill timing for Stampeders

Rather than staying at home in bed, flu-stricken Calgary quarterback Henry Burris worked out...

Rather than staying at home in bed, flu-stricken Calgary quarterback Henry Burris worked out lightly with the Stamps yesterday. (Calgary Sun/Jack Cusano)

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:45 AM ET

It is an upper-body injury, in typically murky playoff parlance.

Although the way Calgary Stampeders starting quarterback Henry Burris describes his illness, it qualifies as both an upper- and lower-body malady.

Still, Burris is confident he will have a clean bill of health come Sunday's CFL West semifinal, despite experiencing flu-like symptoms the past four days.

Smilin' Hank looked downright dreadful yesterday, his second consecutive day without running the offence. Burris did suit up while tossing a few pigskins but backup Jason Gesser took the controls.

Burris's only real exercise was provided by regular jogs back into the locker-room to deal with bouts of diarrhea.

"I'm getting better, it's more just headaches and stuff," explained Burris, looking rather peaked while lamenting his decision this fall to forego a flu shot.

"First it was coughing and then more sinus and throat, although (the doctor) said it isn't strep throat.

"It's frustrating because I can't be out there helping the guys out preparing and practising. The good thing is we're playing the same team, have the same game plan, so it doesn't hurt me in that aspect. But it's always good to be out there to get the reps, keep everything going and keep the timing and the good feeling going."

Burris completed 14 of 24 passes for 311 yards and three TDs in defeating the Eskimos last Sunday, completing an 11-7 regular season while earning home-field advantage for the semifinal.

If Burris's condition was serious, the club contends, the team's all-star pivot would be banished from the locker-room, prevented from passing on the illness. Common sense would suggest the irrepressible passer should have been home in bed, although Burris would have none of that.

"Even though I'm feeling this way, I just can't leave," said Burris.

"We've done so much as a team this year that despite how I feel, I want to be a part of it each and every day."

Higgins argues the first two days of practice heading into a game aren't crucial, although he will be anxious to see a more chipper No. 1 behind centre during today's workout.

"(Today) will be a better indicator," said Higgins, confident head therapist Pat Clayton will have Burris rejuvenated in record time.

"If he doesn't start taking some reps then I'll be very concerned.

"Right now, the healing factor is time. Pat has no reason to be concerned. It's tough when you talk to an athlete who misses a couple of reps (but) that's not going to hurt him. He's been out a while before and he's been able to come back."

Burris's illness is the team's first real bout of adversity since the quarterback tore ligaments in his thumb two months ago, forcing him from the starting lineup for three games.

"Way too much is being made of (this)," Higgins insisted, noting Burris's condition today will provide a more accurate indication of whether he can play. Day 3 in my mind is the critical one.

"Something I learned a few years ago, if you can't go on Day 3 or 4, you can't play."

Gesser said he expects Burris to start but will be ready if needed.

"It would be highly unlikely that he wouldn't play but as a backup you have to always be prepared," Gesser said.

YOUNG HEALING FINE: Import safety Trey Young has looked strong in practice the last two days despite suffering a sprained ankle Sunday against Edmonton.

"The ankle is still a little bit sore but it will be fine," said Young, who made one pick against the Eskimos last Sunday, almost scoring a touchdown.


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