Just one hit and that's it

ERIC FRANCIS

, Last Updated: 6:57 AM ET

The Calgary Stampeders entered last night's 38-33 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos just one hit away from having their season ended.

The latest -- and likely career-ending -- concussion to Dave Dickenson suddenly puts the club in the same position it was last year when Henry Burris was the team's only legitimate starter.

Should he be sidelined for any considerable amount of time, the season would be lost.

Part of what made the Stampeders an early Grey Cup contender this season was their unmatched depth at the most important position -- an enviable situation only the Edmonton Eskimos could come close to relating to.

However, with Dickenson reduced to a coaching role and Burris already on the limp with turf toe, there's cause for concern among Stamps fans.

GRUESOME

They better hope Burris has been working on the ol' hook slide he's so hesitant to execute.

After all, should he go down as he did last year, the club would likely have no choice but to summon, gulp, Marcus Crandell from forced retirement.

It could be that gruesome.

Don't believe me?

Check back to last season when Burris hurt his shoulder in Game 12 and the club lost all four games he missed down the stretch with either Akili Smith or Ben Sankey starting.

To be fair, neither had much hope of success given their inexperience and lack of reps all season.

But that's exactly the point.

Without Burris, the Stamps would put their season in the hands of third-stringer Barrick Nealy or the recently-signed Sankey before Crandell was brought back.

Granted, almost every team in the league would have to abandon Grey Cup dreams should their starter be knocked out for the rest of the year. Heck, several teams don't even have a legitimate starter (see Winnipeg and Hamilton), which is impossible to overcome in a passing league.

But in Calgary, where the offence is counted on to be among the league's best just to give the club a chance every week, it's all the more important.

This club's defence has proven it's too inconsistent to shoulder the load and single-handedly keep the team in games. That's the offence's job -- a job it simply wouldn't be able to do without Burris (or Dickenson) at the helm.

Team brass knew that heading in, thus prompting the pricey signing of Dickenson at $150,000. But it was an insurance policy worth every penny at the time.

But suddenly the club is as vulnerable as it was last year.

Make no mistake, with Burris in the lineup, the Stamps are still among the league's elite. He has always been the biggest reason why Calgary is considered a contender despite having a rookie head coach and a completely rebuilt defence.

By no means should Stamps fans wallow in the loss of Dickenson or worry about it affecting team morale. He's been an effective coach and mentor for Burris thus far and will continue to do so despite post-concussion symptoms.

However, there's new reason to shudder every time Burris picks himself up off the turf grimacing, or is unable to pick himself up at all.


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