Antsy Stamp Hodg-ing bets

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

Itching isn't the right word.

Craving probably isn't strong enough, either.

Howard Hodges is desperate to get back into action along the Calgary Stampeders defensive line.

"I need it. I need it. I need it," the 6-ft.-2, 259-pounder stressed after yesterday's practice. "I need to get in the games.

"I need to prove to myself, prove to the coaches, prove to the fans I still got it ... Mainly myself.

"I want to get back into the rotation as soon as I can and pick up where I left off."

Where Hodges left off was as a five-game starter on the line, one at defensive end when injuries forced Mike Labinjo to fill in at linebacker and the rest on the interior at tackle.

He picked up a sack against the B.C. Lions in the season-opener, and added his second of the year in Montreal against the Alouettes in Week 3.

Hodges had four tackles and six hits in his handful of games before hurting his hamstring in practice after the loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, forcing him to the sidelines for the home-and-home series against the Saskatchewan Roughriders before the bye week.

"I'm tired of watching. I'm tired of sitting home watching TV," said Hodges. "I want to get back in those games."

The defensive line -- held without a sack in their last three outings -- could use his presence as well.

Head coach John Hufnagel said there's a good chance Hodges will be activated for Friday's game against the Lions in B.C., but only if he's completely healthy.

"He worked well today, so I'll get a report and hopefully he's full-speed," said Hufnagel.

"Unfortunately, I can't dress everybody. If he's healthy, then he has a great opportunity to be on the field."

Hodges says he's getting there.

"It feels a lot better. Right now, it's just weak," he said. "The sad thing about football is you've only got a short period of time to get it back together.

"The longer you sit out, the longer you've got to work that much harder to get back in game shape."

Hamstrings are easy to tweak for players in a position that requires strong bursts off the line to bust into the opposing backfield.

"I'm pretty comfortable I'm not going to hurt it anymore at this point," said Hodges.

"Last week was a different issue, but this week it's just strength.

"The bye week really helped out. Plus, I didn't miss another game, so that was a plus."


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