Stamps wary of healthy Printers

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:51 PM ET

Cornering a wounded Lion falls in the don't-try-this-at-home category.

Things can get ugly.

When the Calgary Stampeders visit Vancouver Friday night, they'll be trying to cage one to avoid an ugly blemish on their CFL season.

Game-hungry quarterback Casey Printers is expected to return from a knee injury and spark the desperate Lions, who have lost six straight games and won none at home this season.

The lone victory came with Printers behind centre.

Sidelined since the third game of the year and still wearing a brace on his right leg, the elusive pivot has been taking the bulk of the first-team reps this week preparing for Friday's battle with the Stamps at Empire Field.

"Printers has been one of the biggest mysteries all year. At first, I thought he was out for the year," said Stamps defensive end Mike Labinjo.

"If he's healthy, he's the guy we have to eliminate. We've got to really get pressure on him and just see where he's at right now."

Even at less than 100%, Printers is the kind of quarterback who can change a game with his arm or legs.

And while Labinjo and his fellow defensive linemen will be asked to put pressure on him in the backfield, they also have to contain him.

When this Lion gets out of the passing pocket, he might be even more dangerous.

"He's a pretty athletic guy. He's basically a running back that can throw the ball," said veteran Stamps safety Wes Lysack, whose defensive backfield will be tasked with taking away Printers' receiving targets.

"He can create some situations for himself, so we've got to keep him contained and not let him get outside of the pocket and run around and create situations for himself.

"The thing about Casey Printers a lot of people don't realize is he's got a heck of an arm. If he gets outside of the pocket, he can throw it about 80 yards. You've just got to be aware of him."

The league's stingiest defence is well aware of what the CFL's Most Outstanding Player from 2004 is capable of, even six years removed from his most remarkable season with the Lions before his name was dragged through the mud for taking a shot at the NFL.

Dealing with injury troubles at the position last season, the Leos reached out to Printers for a spark. He rejoined his former team and came through with a playoff win in Hamilton to earn a new deal for this season.

"Casey is a good quarterback. When he came in last year, he gave those guys a spark. That's what they're looking for him to do this year off this injury," said Stamps LB/DB hybrid Keon Raymond. "If we can disguise coverages, I think that'd be a big help for us. If we can kind of confuse him a little bit, and get after him a little bit -- just don't let him get settled inside that pocket -- if we can do that, I think we'll have a successful night."

It will be a night the Stamps plan to play to the final whistle, knowing their opponent is capable of coming up with big plays even if he spends much of the night on his back.

"He's tough. Some of the hits he was taking this year, I'm amazed he'd get back up and be ready for the next play," Labinjo said. "Printers is a tough guy.

"For him to come back already from his injury, that's a tribute to his toughness."

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca


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