Stamps 'still confident'

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:49 AM ET

VANCOUVER - The last time the Calgary Stampeders started 0-2, they missed out on first place by one win.

Certainly, a two-game losing streak at any point isn’t reason to panic, but the Stamps could use some positive news with the start they’ve had to this season.

Every time they take the field, something happens to make the future seem bleaker.

Safety Demetrice Morley had two pickoffs in the first pre-season game but hasn’t played since due to a knee injury.

In the second pre-season game, quarterback Drew Tate suffered a dislocated shoulder. Out at least a month.

The season-opening loss at home to the Toronto Argonauts was the worst. Four players suffered injuries in that game, and none of them will suit up Friday night against the B.C. Lions at Empire Field (8:30 p.m., TSN, QR77).

Two of them — defensive lineman Corey Mace (torn Achilles) and kicker Rob Maver (torn quad) — were put on the nine-game injured list.

With linebacker Malik Jackson (concussion) and receiver Ken-Yon Rambo (hamstring) also out for Week 2, the Stamps could use a win to help soften the aches and pains.

“I don’t care how you look at it,” said receiver Nik Lewis. “Malik and Ken-Yon are huge losses, but we’re still confident. If I didn’t think we could win this game, I would have stayed at home, too.”

In 2009, the Stamps lost the first two games of the season, at home to the Montreal Alouettes and on the road against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

They got back on track with a home win against the Argos and a road victory in Vancouver, but it was that game they lost Rambo for the season with a knee injury. By the end of the season, they were tied with the Saskatchewan Roughriders but were on the road for the West final due to head-to-head record.

“Everybody says it’s better to be playing well late,” said Stamps running back Joffrey Reynolds. “Sometimes, that can be too late. This week is a big one for us because it’s a divisional opponent.

“As an offence, we should use that loss last week as a reality check. We can’t just show up and win.

“We need to get the winning taste in our mouth. It feels awkward just being 0-1. Everybody should come out Friday with winning on our mind.”

The way the West Division is shaping up, there won’t be the same separation there was last year, when the Stamps and Riders were out front and the Eskimos and Lions fought for third.

The Lions look much improved and aren’t likely to struggle out of the gate like they did last year. After a 1-7 start, the Lions went 7-3 to finish out, and that included two road wins against the Stamps.

There was friction during the first one, when Lewis sat out with an injury and had a post-game yelling match with Lions defensive backs.

There hasn’t been much heat on the rivalry this week, but Lewis expects a battle on the field.

“I would like to think I have a rivalry with somebody important like Korey Banks,” Lewis said. “I like going against Korey. I’ve always felt he is one of the better players in the league in terms of talent.

“He knows he has his hands full. I know I have to come with my best game against him. I have to be the best Nik Lewis. The most important part about playing B.C. is neutralizing Korey.”


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