Sackmaster has Calvillo in his sights

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:20 PM ET

Defensive end Charleston Hughes was one of the first Calgary Stampeders to bundle up when the temperature started to drop.

Perhaps a stint south of the border softened him up?

"Nah, I actually came back tougher," Hughes said.

Tougher to stop, too.

In just three starts for the Stamps since returning from a training camp audition with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, Hughes has already racked up six sacks.

The 6-foot-1, 244-pounder returned to practice yesterday after missing back-to-back sessions with a foot injury. He's hoping to continue his quarterback feast in a Thanksgiving Monday tilt against the Montreal Alouettes (11 a.m., TSN, QR77) and star pivot Anthony Calvillo.

"Hopefully, we can soften him up," Hughes grinned. "We're gonna try to beat him up like steak. We're gonna tenderize him."

As Quinton Porter and Buck Pierce can attest, that's his speciality.

Hughes returned to the Stampeders lineup at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton three weeks ago, slamming Porter to the turf twice in a loss to the Tiger-Cats.

He had a pair of sacks against Pierce the following week in a victory over the visiting B.C. Lions, then added two more to his tally in a rematch with the Ticats.

He's the first Stamps defender since DeWayne Patterson in 1997 to record three multiple-sack games in the same season. And Hughes did it in three consecutive contests.

"The pace that he's on is pretty incredible. I don't think I've ever seen a guy come back in and have a two-sack game, let alone three two-sack games in a row," said Stamps defensive tackle Mike Labinjo. "He's dominating right now. It just makes our defensive line that much better.

"Right now, Charleston is taking advantage of his opportunities. If teams want to leave him one-on-one, then that's their mistake. And the better Charleston does, the better for us because it opens up other opportunities for other guys."

Hughes made some noise as a rookie with the Red & White in 2008, sharing the team lead with five sacks and finishing atop the eight-team loop with a dozen tackles for a loss.

He's been even more dangerous in three games this season.

Despite missing 10 outings while he attended training camp with the Eagles, he already leads all Stamps with six sacks and sits just five back of B.C.'s Ricky Foley, who's setting the current CFL standard with 11 backfield baggings.

Nonetheless, he insists he's not meeting his own lofty expectations just yet.

"Working on it," he said. "My next expectation is to lead the league in sacks, and I'm working on that right now."

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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