So long, Thelwell: Out for season

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

The sting of one regular-season loss quickly subsides.

The loss of a popular veteran receiver for the season -- and potentially forever -- will take a bit longer for the Calgary Stampeders to overcome.

Ryan Thelwell is headed for surgery on a torn Achilles tendon suffered late in Friday's 24-17 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

This is a tough injury to recover from, and at 36, Thelwell is facing long odds.

"Ryan has made that move so many times. If you take a bad step, or step on a foot, it can happen," said fellow Canadian Stamps receiver Brett Ralph.

"So you have to play every game like it's your last. You can't take for granted what you are given."

The loss is a reality check for veterans.

"I know he's getting up there in age, and I know he doesn't want to go out like this," said 32-year-old Jeremaine Copeland.

"I don't know what the future holds, but I'm going to be praying he can come back strong. Hopefully, he can come back next year and if it's his last year, he can go out healthy, not with an injury."

The Stamps may also have to deal with another injury, as starting left guard Jesse Newman is getting an MRI on his shoulder.

In just nine games this season, Thelwell had eclipsed his numbers from a year ago.

He was a crucial member of the receiving corps after Ken-Yon Rambo went out with a season-ending knee injury. Thelwell brought a presence to the position and gave the Stamps enough production to pick up the slack.

Now, the dropoff is more dramatic.

Stamps head coach John Hufnagel said the team is currently in talks about the plan of action.

Not only do they have to replace a starter, Thelwell's non-import status allowed the Stamps ratio flexibility for other positions.

Hufnagel, whose playing career also ended on a torn Achilles, could have things easier if sophomore Canadian Jabari Arthur is ready to return from a broken foot suffered in the pre-season.

"He practised the last day this week. He still has some tenderness and soreness," Hufnagel said. "He proved to himself that, structurally, it was sound. He may have to fight through some pain.

"I'm hoping when we get back out there, he will be able to go through a whole practice. We're in wait-and see mode."

The Stamps could go with versatile utility man Markus Howell at that spot, but he hasn't played much receiver after spending last season as a defensive back. Another option would be rookie Blaine Kruger, who dressed but didn't play much for one game earlier this season.

Imports Titus Ryan, Jermaine Jackson, Jackie Chambers or Maurice Price could suit up, but that would mean adding another non-import elsewhere.

"The ramifications of losing a Canadian on offence is pretty big," said Canadian running back Jon Cornish. "It's something we have to deal with as a team."

The sombre mood on the trip home from Hamilton told the story of Thelwell's impact off the field, as well.

"It's been a pleasure playing with him for three years," Ralph said.

"We hope he can get the recovery he needs."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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