That's gotta hurt

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

For the second time in less than 12 months, the Calgary Stampeders Iron Man looks like he will have to call an end to the streak.

Linebacker Brian Clark, one of the keys to the three-four defence, has hardly missed a practice in the past seven years playing for Winnipeg and now Calgary.

He took an unfamiliar spot on the sidelines for practice yesterday, nursing a hamstring pull suffered in the loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Friday.

Through the past 111 games, Clark hasn't had to deal with any major bumps and bruises.

Now, he might follow retired centre Jamie Crysdale, whose ironman streak ended in the middle of last season at 210 games.

"If the streak has to end to make me last to the end of the season, I'm fine with that," said Clark, who has suited up in every game since 2000.

"It's still a good streak if it ends this week. I won't dwell on it. It's not something I really set out to do.

"It creeps up on you and the next thing you know it, you are over the century mark. After it's over, it's something to be proud of because you're durable."

Although Crysdale's streak lasted more than 100 games longer than Clark's, the linebacker's number is impressive enough because of the position he plays and the dangers involved.

The Stamps' defence calls for a lot of blitzing from the linebackers and plenty of feel-speed collisions with opponents.

Being the CFL, Clark rarely misses a down on special teams coverage, where clips and blocks from behind are far too common.

But possibly making his injury and the subsequent end to his streak a little more difficult to take is it occurred during a regular defensive tackle where he pulled the muscle.

"I just overextended myself. I was trying to go for the ball and was sprinting full speed," Clark said. "I went over the top and all the weight was all on my hamstring. Something had to go and that was it.

"It's the first time I ever pulled my hamstring. I don't have a gauge to mark what's a bad injury or not because I've never had it before. I just want to see how my body responds."

Clark hopes to wait until an hour before game time to make a decision on whether he can go. The Stamps can't afford to hold out hope.

Backup import linebacker Cornelius Anthony move into the mike spot, which is the play-caller for the defence.

The loss could affect the defence more than losing anyone else because Clark coolly brings the plays in from defensive co-ordinator Denny Creehan and tells the group what to do.

"The nice things about Cornelius Anthony is he's not a newcomer so he will jump in and do the best he can," said head coach Tom Higgins about the player who spent all of 2005 on the injured list.

"The only reason we kept him is because he's a very good football player and the only reason he didn't get on the field is he's backing up very good football players."

Last season, the team offered Crysdale the chance to take a snap and extend his streak, with the hopes he could recover for the next game.

Clark scoffs at doing the same thing, although two weeks is a normal recovery time for his injury.

"If I'm not 100 percent and not on all the plays I'm supposed to be on, then I won't be out there," Clark said. "There's somebody else who can do the job."


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