Injury forces cover tune-up

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Tristan Jackson could see a couple of Jayhawks flying towards him on Labour Day.

With Brandon Browner out, the Calgary Stampeders are looking elsewhere for someone to contain the outstanding Edmonton Eskimos kick returner.

One thing Stamps special teams co-ordinator Craig Dickenson doesn't want Monday is to get burned again by Jackson.

Running back Jon Cornish and Ronnie Amadi, who once did the job on punt coverage when they were with the Kansas Jayhawks, will be just two of the prospective gunners in Browner's place.

"BB will certainly be missed. He's an awesome gunner," Cornish said about the defensive back, who is out three to four weeks with a knee sprain.

"Our coach in college would do play starters on special teams. There are benefits to it. You have great players out there. But the players get tired.

"We have guys on this team who are starting players and are on every special teams unit. It gets really tiring, so it's up to us to be in the best shape we can be."

For 52 minutes against the Eskimos Aug. 13 in Edmonton, the Stamps contained Jackson. Then, the Mississippi Missile took off, breaking tackles and blasting through defenders for 71 yards on a punt return.

When the Stamps took the lead in the final minute, Jackson bobbled the ensuing kickoff return, then picked it up and ran for 35 yards to give the Eskimos a chance at a winning score.

"He's playing well this year, and the guys in front of him are doing a good job," Dickenson said.

"He lulls you to sleep. He has the innate ability to coast until he sees daylight, then he hits it.

"The big returns he's had, and he's had a number of them, some of them are on broken plays. He's good. There's no question he's the top guy in the West. Him and (Montreal's) Larry Taylor are the top two in the league. Because of his physical play, he might be the best.

"Tristan is strong. On the big punt return against us, two or three of our guys got at least a piece of him, and he broke tackles and just kept churning.

"He's really a special returner. Our guys know we have our work cut out for us."

With Browner out, it caused a well-publicized hit to the defence. Cornerback Dwight Anderson will slide across to replace Browner and Keon Raymond will take Anderson's spot. But the loss may affect special teams just as much.

Although Browner only has four special teams tackles, he often funnels the returner into teammates.

Right now, Dickenson is doing auditions to see who is best able to take that spot.

"Whoever is the freshest and most ready to play is going to be out there," Dickenson said.

"We're trying to train some guys this week to do the job as well. We're looking at defensive guys but there are some offensive guys who can do it as well.

"Whoever is the most hungry to get out there will get the job."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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