Misery loves company

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

They sat beside each other on the bench yesterday, with identical boots covering their sprained ankles.

Mike Labinjo and Wes Lysack are now bonding with nearly identical injuries that will keep both Calgary Stampeders defensive starters out Friday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

A week ago, Labinjo scored a touchdown against the Toronto Argonauts, then Lysack had to get one.

On Thursday, just two days before the rematch in Toronto, Labinjo sprained his ankle in practice. Lysack injured his on the first play of the game.

"He's just been copying me all year," said Labinjo about his road roommate.

"When I saw that on TV, I just shook my head ... I couldn't believe it. He hurts his ankle, and it's the right one. So now we're going to hear the jokes.

"If we tie our middle legs together we can walk side-by-side. It's tough because I know what he's going through.

"He wants to be on the field all the time. We need him on our defence. Hopefully, the boys can put some wins together and we can get healthy and come back."

The Riders certainly aren't going to feel sorry for the Stamps given their bumps and bruises. At any point this season, the Riders have up to 18 players on injured reserve, including an astounding 12 on the nine-game list.

The injuries have caught up to the Riders, who were without such stars as running back Wes Cates, defensive end John Chick and receivers D.J. Flick, Matt Dominguez and Andy Fantuz this weekend. Saskatchewan (8-5) has lost five of its last seven games --in part -- because of the problems it has suffered.

When the Stamps play in Regina Friday, the Red and White may also be without right tackle Jeff Pilon (shoulder) and slotbacks Nik Lewis (ribs) and Teyo Johnson (shoulder), who were all hurt in Saturday's convincing 44-16 win over the Argos.

Pilon will continue to be replaced in the starting lineup by Derek Armstrong, and the teams would have to do some shuffling if Lewis and Johnson don't go.

"This is what it's all about this time of year," said quarterback Henry Burris. "You have to deal with injuries. They've had injuries all year and we've had injuries all year. They have some good guys not playing and we have some good guys not playing. It comes down to who has the depth."

When Lysack went out Saturday, Keon Raymond and Markus Howell took over at safety, while Justin Phillips played well in place of Labinjo.

To maintain the ratio with Lysack out, the Stamps may also want to bring Richard Karikari off the nine-game injured list, although linebacker Marc Calixte appears ready to return from a knee ailment as well.

Karikari took a month to recover from his hamstring injury and is back practising now after missing six games.

Lysack and Labinjo both hope to use the nine-day window between Friday's outing and the Thanksgiving rematch to get back into action.

Now the competition is one to see who can come back sooner, although a betting man would say Labinjo.

Lysack disagrees.

"My theory is I could come back sooner, one because I'm needed more and two because I'm tougher," said Lysack.

"Mike just likes to relax and hang out. We could put a lounge chair at the end of the bench, not this week but the following week when I'm back and he's cheering me on.

"We'll put an ice bucket there for him, not for his feet but for margaritas."


Videos

Photos