Stamps fight before flight

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:47 AM ET

CALGARY - While teammates are jetting off to various locales around North America, Juwan Simpson’s bye-week destination will be the trainer’s table.

The Calgary Stampeders are focused on heading into a seven-day break from the field on a high note, but their middle linebacker won’t be on the field to help continue the win streak.

A knee injury that has kept Simpson out for two games will cost him a third one.

Simpson will miss Friday’s visit to Regina to face the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but he expects to return Aug. 27 at home against the Montreal Alouettes.

“When everybody else is on vacation, I’m going to be out here working, trying to get better and stronger,” said Simpson, who was reduced to cheerleader status Tuesday during practice after his knee acted up Monday.

“I can focus the whole week on making sure I’m 100%.”

Since John Hufnagel took over the Stamps in 2008, there has been an onus on planning out the bye week vacations to make sure the team doesn’t lose focus on work.

If they were to beat the Riders, it would be a third straight win — which was the goal Hufnagel set out for the team after confirming their time off about three weeks ago.

“It gives us a level of focus,” Simpson said. “We understand we have a week off after this.

“Everything else, we can forget about. After the game, we have all the time we want to relax and do whatever it is we do. In the time being, we hone in and focus on the game.”

This result will affect the following seven days. If the Stamps win, they can take their minds off football for a week.

Lose, and it will weigh on their minds.

A victory before the bye has been a springboard in the past. A loss and things went the other way.

In 2008, the Stamps went into Regina and came away with a massive 30-25 victory before the bye. It was the first of seven wins over the next eight games.

In 2009, a loss in Edmonton right before the break prompted changes on the defensive side of the ball.

“You don’t want that sour taste in our mouth of a loss,” said defensive tackle DeVone Claybrooks, one of the players who joined the team in that 2009 airlift.

“This team thrives on winning. Since I’ve been here, we’ve been successful. You don’t want to have a letdown. You want to build and not have a setback.”

The Stamps are still uncertain if they will have receiver Ken-Yon Rambo for Friday’s second visit to Regina in a span of three weeks.

Rambo skipped Saturday’s win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats due to a tender Achilles, but he went through practice Tuesday. The biggest test will be how he feels Wednesday.

“I can still run on it. I can do my bursting, but it’s a matter of how long I can do that,” Rambo said. “I want to be out there for the full four quarters.

“I don’t want to keep going, and in the third quarter, I can’t run any more. That’s what happened in the last game in Saskatchewan. I felt miserable about that.

“I felt I couldn’t help my team, and I was frustrated.

I don’t want that problem this week. I want to make sure

everything is right.”

The beat-up Stamps could really use a break in the schedule right now.

“The bye week is coming at an opportune time for us,” Hufnagel said. “We have some nicks that we’ve been fighting since the season started.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


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