Burris eyes rematch win

RANDY SPORTAK

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

EDMONTON -- The eyes are a window to the soul.

In the case of Henry Burris yesterday, they weren't just giving insight. They were screaming a message back at you.

Burris, who wears special contact lenses when he plays that make his eyes look red, had them in place yesterday when he addressed the media despite not taking the field for even a practice.

"Focused," said the Calgary Stampeders quarterback on the eve of his team's meeting against the Edmonton Eskimos. "Usually I do this just for game time, but it's been game time all week."

That's the case since he and the rest of the Stamps were thrashed handily 37-16 by Eskimos Monday afternoon in the first half of the annual Labour Day-week series between the provincial rivals.

Only a few days later, the Stamps need to make amends -- not only to keep pace in the standings but for their psyche.

Needless to say, they could use a little 'eye of the tiger.'

"If we consider ourselves a good team and a team that wants to be a contender in the playoffs, not just happy with getting there or going with the flow, we have to redeem ourselves," said running back Joffrey Reynolds. "They took it to us on Monday in front of our home crowd. It's not a self-evaluation, but you want to play good football and show the type of team we can be."

The key to achieving that goal tonight at Commonwealth Stadium, however, will be the defensive performance.

Specifically, keeping Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray in check.

Ray, the front-runner for the league's MVP honours through the first half of the CFL season, has shredded the Stamps defenders this season.

In two meetings this year, he's thrown for a total of 824 yards and six touchdowns.

As much as the Esks want to spread the credit around, everybody on the Stampeders side of the field knows the key to victory will be preventing Ray from doing another number on them.

"In my opinion, next to our guy, he's the best quarterback in the league," said Stamps linebacker JoJuan Armour. "If you cut off the head, the body will fall. I don't think they'd be as successful without the calibre of quarterback he is. It's not we're intentionally going to hurt him, but we have to get after him, get him on the ground, put pressure in his face, use movement ... Make him uncomfortable."

That feat hasn't been done with any regularity this season, a reason Ray will tie Eskimos great Warren Moon's franchise record of 144 career touchdown passes with his next endzone strike.

For his part, Ray is taking the accolades -- and talk of becoming the Eskimos' all-time leader in touchdown passes -- in stride.

"In 2005, I didn't throw a touchdown the last seven games and everybody wanted to see my butt on the bench, so I know how quick it can change," Ray said. "You've just got to go out and work hard every week.

"We haven't done anything yet, we've won six ball games. Until we get in the playoffs and win some big games, we're a team that really hasn't done anything."

Burris, who can also be the CFL's top player, doesn't have time to think about the race for that honour as he takes to the same field as Ray.

He's got bigger concerns -- one being a Stampeders team that needs a victory to return to a tie for second place in the West Division. Another one is a toe injury that took him out of Monday's clash, an ailment he doesn't believe the Esks will specifically target.

"If anybody tries to go after my toe, I've got some toe jam and peanut butter and jelly down there waiting for them," Burris said. "These are good guys, and they don't try to do anything out of the game."

In essence, his injury illustrates where the rest of the Stamps sit -- wounded.

"Back a cat in a corner and see what happens," Burris said. "We've faced teams like that. We lost to Winnipeg earlier in the year. It's always tough to beat a team two times back-to-back, and I know they understand that. We're gonna come out and fight hard."


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