Golden opportunity for ex-Esk

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:40 PM ET

The big grin stretching across his face tells the tale.

Jim Davis digs playing against the Green and Gold, the CFL team that helped him become an everyday player.

"I'm going to keep it G-rated right now," said the Calgary Stampeders defensive end with a chuckle, when asked yesterday which one of the Edmonton Eskimos' offensive lineman he enjoys matching up against most.

"I've mixed it up with each one of those guys, and each one of those guys is a solid player," Davis continued.

"So I'm not going to say I'd like to go up against one guy in particular, except that I'm looking forward to getting up against those guys again."

That'll come Friday during the CFL season's fourth installment of the Battle of Alberta -- a biggie at McMahon Stadium (8 p.m., TSN).

Three points separate the Alberta clubs, with the Stampeders (8-6-1) holding the advantage thanks in part to a season series 2-1 lead over the Eskimos (7-8).

And the fact the rivals are both still alive in the race for first place in the West Division just adds fuel to the fire for the 6-foot-4, 276-lb. Davis, who is amped to do battle against a club that cut him in the spring.

"I'm only human -- any player who doesn't say he wants to do a little better against his old team is lying," Davis said.

"And that's OK as long as you stay focused on the task at hand. You don't worry about those things.

"As long as I focus on what's important, the rest will come."

He did last game against the Eskimos Sept. 11, putting together a memorable performance that gave him the nod as the CFL's defensive player of the week.

Davis, 28, had four tackles, three sacks, a pass knockdown and a forced fumble, helping the Stamps to a thrilling 35-34 victory at Commonwealth Stadium.

"Nothing really clicked -- there was just a lot on the line that day," Davis said. "A lot of things were big factors in that game -- the Battle of Alberta, a rivalry game, my old team ... that's all extra motivation.

"Now, here we are with an opportunity to play for first place -- how much more motivation do you need?

"This game means a lot," Davis continued. "If I can give a performance like (Sept. 11), it would be awesome. But the key is do the things we've all been working on as a defence -- stopping the running game and containing Ricky Ray.

"We have to put pressure on -- it's upon us front four to get that done. Hopefully, I'll be able to make an impact to help the d-line and the team (Friday)."

It wasn't long ago Davis was leaving his mark for the rival Eskimos. He played in 14 games with the Green and Gold last season, registering 26 tackles and six sacks, but was cut from the club this year in training camp.

Eight weeks of the CFL's regular season went by before the Stamps rang him up and brought him into the fold -- and three weeks later, he was doing damage against his former team in the Labour Day rematch.

Since Week 11, Davis has become a fixture on the front four and has turned up the heat.

In fact, he's the only Stamps player to have recorded a sack -- one -- in the team's last two games, the 44-44 tie Saturday with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the 32-11 loss to the Montreal Alouettes on the Thanksgiving long weekend.

"Jim's added some experience," added Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel.

"He's a solid contributor to the defence. He had a terrific game up in Edmonton. He plays his responsibility, and he's been very effective along the front four."

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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