Prepared to plug D gap

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

HAMILTON -- The Calgary Stampeders will kick off a crucial road game and do it without one of their defensive starters.

Sound familiar?

It sure does to the players who will have to pick up the slack after the loss of starting outside linebacker JoJuan Armour.

Armour was left at home after being involved in an off-field altercation Tuesday night and won't play tonight when the Stamps face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium (5:30 p.m., TSN).

"We will do what we've continued to do all year," said Stamps linebacker Dwaine Carpenter, who will get more work in Armour's absence.

"This isn't our first game without him. We will go out, rally and have fun. We'll keep doing what we have the past couple of weeks."

Dealing with adversity is something the Stamps defence has done all season.

A few weeks ago, defensive lineman Mike Labinjo sprained an ankle just hours before the club boarded a plane for Toronto.

On the first play of that win over the Argonauts, starting safety Wes Lysack went down with a similar ankle problem.

This isn't the first time Armour has been lost. He missed a road outing in Winnipeg July 24, then was kicked out on the first play a week later against the Riders for knocking over an official.

In Week 1, the team lost two defensive starters -- middle linebacker Saleem Rasheed and rush end Juwan Simpson -- so they know how to play through personnel problems.

The difference tonight is they will have enough bodies, with Lemarcus Rowell coming in to add depth in Armour's roster spot.

"Unfortunately, Armour's not with us," Carpenter said. "We've done pretty well all year overcoming adversity. That's the biggest thing I've noticed as a difference between this year and last year.

"We're on a mission. We know we control our own destiny and we don't want to leave it anyone else's hands."

The Stamps need one win to clinch first place in the division, which would allow them to host the West final Nov. 15 at McMahon Stadium.

Stamps head coach John Hufnagel said it was his decision to hold Armour out, but he wouldn't say for sure if the former Tiger-Cat would return next week.

The biggest thing the Stamps miss with Armour out is his vocal leadership.

It may actually be quieter in the defensive huddle now.

"DA (Dwight Anderson) and (Brandon) Browner are still out there," linebacker Shannon James said. "They are out on the corners, but you can hear them while in the huddle.

"JoJuan is a vocal leader, so myself, Carpenter and Saleem will have to open our mouths a bit more and take his role.

"We've had different lineups game after game, so this is nothing new to us. We will miss him, but the guys are ready."

Since Labour Day, when Edmonton Eskimos star Ricky Ray threw for three TDs, the Stamps defence has allowed just four majors through the air in seven games.

James, who drops back into coverage more often than not, said the group is coming together.

"The chemistry is great," James said. "All the guys back there (in the secondary) are young except for Wes (Lysack). We're sticking together and playing together.

"We're really playing well as a unit. Coach (Chris) Jones is more confident in our man defence, so we're able to go after the quarterback a bit more."


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