'Riders Wes-ting their time

The Roughriders have yet to publicly say whether star running back Wes Cates is in or out tomorrow...

The Roughriders have yet to publicly say whether star running back Wes Cates is in or out tomorrow night. (Sun Media/Darren Makowichuk)

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

If Wes Cates is playing games on whether or not he's going to play, the Calgary Stampeders aren't biting.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have yet to publicly say whether their star running back is in or out tomorrow night, but the Stamps defence doesn't care.

Until the point where the former Stampeder is declared out, they will prepare as if No. 20 is going to run the ball down their throats.

"For them, Wes Cates is the Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash of their team," said Stampeders defensive tackle Eddie Freeman in reference to two of the last three NBA MVPs.

"There's no beating around the bush with it. If you take those type of players off your team, the opponent should breathe a sigh of relief.

"But you still have to execute what you have to do."

With Cates out with a lower leg injury last week against the Alouettes, the Riders only handed the ball seven times to replacements Neal Hughes and Stu Foord.

Quarterback Michael Bishop threw the ball 42 times instead, but he also took off running five times.

So, even without their 1,000-yard running back at 100%, Stamps linebacker JoJuan Armour realizes the Riders have a threat on the ground.

"They have Bishop, who is always a runner, so we're preparing for him to get out of the pocket and scramble a bit and make plays," said Armour, who definitely respects the Riders' passing game.

"Bishop's bread and butter is the deep ball, and he has one of the best ones in the league. He has one of the strongest arms in the league.

"We're preparing for their best players. If there are any curve balls, we'll adjust accordingly."

The Riders have been hit hard with injuries to their receiving corps. The likes of Matt Dominguez, D.J. Flick and Andy Fantuz have missed the majority of the season.

That makes Cates even more valuable. His 1,468 yards from scrimmage are twice the second-best player, Weston Dressler, who has 676.

The Riders are 7-1 when Cates scores a TD this season.

"I will tell you this, Wes Cates is perhaps the best back in the CFL among the guys we see," Freeman said. "He probably means more to his team than anybody in this league.

"He can play a running back style or a fullback style. He can run the ball at you, throw a lot of screens or do a lot of draws, and it's all based around Wes Cates.

"When he's not in the lineup, I'm sure they will spread it out a lot more. Whatever they decided to do, we will adapt to it."


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