Stamps hope to trample lowly Esks

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:30 PM ET

There's only one way for the Calgary Stampeders to say good-bye and have a great bye.

Beat the Edmonton Eskimos handily.

On paper, the 5-1 Stamps should have no trouble with the 1-5 Eskimos, especially seeing as how 2009 CFL leading receiver Fred Stamps isn't in the lineup due to a shoulder injury.

But the Stamps would like nothing more than to focus on taking care of business and then spending the following week feeling good about themselves.

Next weekend is the only quiet one of the entire schedule, and the Stamps know a huge upset loss will dampen any holiday joy.

"You have to live with the game for such a long-time -- two weeks until your next game -- so we're focused on getting out to a good start," Stamps QB Henry Burris said.

"We hope to get them in a rut. They will come out with a lot of energy. It's going to be a tough game for us."

Two years ago, the Stamps had a turning point in the Grey Cup season heading into the bye-week.

Sitting at 3-3 heading into Regina with a bye-week to follow, the Stamps then beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 30-25 in a gutty performance.

After the bye-week, they went 9-2 and swept through the playoffs for a Grey Cup title.

Last season, they had the same 3-3 record heading to Edmonton for the seventh game of the schedule. They lost 38-35 to the Eskimos, and the coaching staff spent the week off recruiting defensive players to help stem the bleeding against the run.

They finished the season 7-3-1 but couldn't get home-field advantage and lost the West Division final to the Riders.

This game could be one of those season turning points, especially if the Stamps give the Eskimos life. They meet twice more in the next three games.

"This is a great opportunity to stay at the top of division," Stamps running back Joffrey Reynolds said.

"Obviously, you want to send a statement to the Eskimos. They are on the other side. They are trying to change and trying to get going in the right direction.

"We hear everyone saying that Calgary is the more dominant team and that people are trying to inflate our heads. We're ready for a tough game."

The Stamps return to action Aug. 27 in Vancouver for a return date against the 1-6 B.C. Lions, who are going into survival mode after losing 37-13 Thursday night to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

In another scheduling oddity, the Stamps actually have the shortest bye-week of anyone, with only 11 days between games.

The Esks' break is 12 days, while the Lions have 14 and the Riders get 15 off-days.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have 16 days off between games, while the Montreal Alouettes have 14.

So if the Stamps players do want to get out of town, they will only for a brief break. They get back to work next Sunday.

Part of the reason for the short bye-week is the team asked for Aug. 15 at home to celebrate the 50th anniversary of McMahon Stadium.

"It's Calgary. We have a 'soft schedule,' as some people want to say," Burris said. "We had two games in five days on the road and then the shortest bye of any team. We can't win anytime."

After playing the Lions, the Stamps then get another nine off-days before facing the Eskimos on Labour Day.

It's a span of 21 days and only one game, but there isn't time for a European vacation in there.

"Who wouldn't want more days off?" Reynolds said. "Eleven days is good enough. I feel fine and healthy. I don't feel beat up or anything.

"I wouldn't mind 16 days off. It's half-a-month. I actually might forget I play football. I might go back to off-season mode."


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