Faithful Rasheed eager to feast on Alouettes

WES GILBERTSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

It might be a late night for the Montreal Alouettes faithful tuning in on TV, but an 8 p.m. kickoff is just fine by Calgary Stampeders linebacker Saleem Rasheed.

That's about the time the sun will set over the Rockies tomorrow, meaning Rasheed, who is fasting from dawn until dusk in observance of Ramadan, should be able to tackle some food and fluids before the first whistle blows.

"It's right at sunset time, so I've caught somewhat of a break," Rasheed said yesterday.

"But there have been some games that I've fasted, and I've been OK. It changes your routine a little bit, but really, if you look at it, you're just eating an earlier breakfast and you're skipping lunch."

Its the seventh straight year Ramadan, a month-long religious holiday observed by Muslims around the globe, has fallen during Rasheed's football season, so he's no stranger to hitting the field without any food or water in his system.

For the remainder of the month, the import linebacker from Birmingham, Ala., will set his alarm for the wee hours of the morning, then devour pancakes, eggs and protein shakes before sunrise. That's enough to keep him going until darkness falls.

"I'm never short on energy," Rasheed said. "I always have a lot of energy. The coaches, most of them, I don't even think they know I'm fasting, because there's not a drop down in my emotion or any of my play.

"I'm still flying around. I still have the same speed and the same weight, so it's hard for them to even notice."

After suffering a shoulder injury in the season-opener in B.C., Rasheed will be making his McMahon Stadium debut against the Alouettes.

The 6-foot-6, 227-lb. import defender figures Stampeders fans will like what they see.

"They'll see some good things, hopefully," he said. "I've been blessed with speed, agility and some strength, so it's a nice little combination that I can put out there on the field.

"They won't be disappointed, hopefully. They won't be disappointed by the show that we're able to put on as a defensive unit."

Rasheed, a former San Francisco 49er, will return to his old digs at middle linebacker, a spot patrolled by JoJuan Armour in his absence.

Just don't expect to see Armour, who ranks second on the Stamps with 36 defensive tackles, standing on the sidelines.

"I'll be playing a bunch of different spots," Armour said. "You might see me at corner -- you never know. Wherever I can contribute, I'm happy to play that role. Whether it's nose tackle to cornerback to safety, I'm going to be out there.


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