At age 37, you would think Ryan Thelwell is too old for nerves.
Yet, the Calgary Stampeders receiver admitted he was as jittery as a rookie before taking the field at McMahon Stadium for Tuesday’s morning practice.
“To go out and compete against a guy where you’re actually pushing yourself is something I haven’t done in a while,” Thelwell said. “I was nervous.”
The Stamps can be thankful it was anticipation, not fear, Thelwell was going through.
Coming back from a torn Achilles tendon isn’t easy at any age, so feeling some trepidation is understandable.
“I’m not going to lie and say it’s not in the back of your mind, because it was such a random thing when it happened, but you’ve got to fight through it,” Thelwell said. “Once I got out there and started running around,
I wasn’t thinking about it.”
Thelwell was enjoying a renaissance season in 2009 with 31 catches for 492 yards, but it all came crashing down in Hamilton during the
10th game of the season, when he suffered the injury while running a route.
He professed the injury was 100% healed after partaking in the practice yesterday.
“The Achilles felt great. Legs felt great. There were a couple of times I ran a deep route and the legs felt more tired. I think I was watching too much training camp, so I’ve got to get in better shape,” he said. “But it felt good to be out there.”
The next goal is to suit up in Sunday’s final pre-season game against Saskatchewan.
“I’ll keep bugging Huff (GM/head coach John Hufnagel). Hopefully, he’ll let me go,” Thelwell said.
“I don’t want to get thrown in a (regular-season) game without having actually competed in a game. I’m going to approach this week like I’m playing Sunday.”
His return to the practice field wasn’t the only good news for the team.
Linebacker Marc Calixte, whose forte is special-teams play, also practised for the first time since training camp opened, his knee good enough for a green light.
“I’m enjoying the fact I’m still able to be on the field,” said Calixte, 31. “I’m having a blast, having fun and taking it day by day.”
Offensive linemen Godfrey Ellis and Matt Sheridan and linebacker Robert McCune, who all missed practice time prior to Sunday’s 23-21 pre-season win over Edmonton, also returned.
Plus, Ken-Yon Rambo, who won the receiving title in 2008 but missed nearly all last season due to a knee injury, said he expects to practice within the next couple of weeks.
“I’m right behind Thelwell,” said Rambo, who suffered a torn ACL during Game 3 last July. “He’s ahead of me, but it’s going good. We’re on the right path.”
Rambo has been on the field daily, lending support and helping guide the young receivers in camp, but hasn’t partaken in any drills.
As much as he wants to rush things, he’s well aware the club will need him more in the 17th and 18th games of the regular season than it does in the season-opener, so it’s best to wait until he’s 100%.
“I’ve got to be patient. That’s the only way,” Rambo said. “Mother Nature has the upper hand on me, so I just have to wait and work hard.
“It’s hard, though. Sitting out almost the whole season last year was frustrating, so I’d love to be out there with the boys.”