Opposite directions for Stamps, Esks

Edmonton's Adarius Bowman is hit by Calgary's Brandon Isaac. (QMI Agency)

Edmonton's Adarius Bowman is hit by Calgary's Brandon Isaac. (QMI Agency)

Ian Busby, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:47 AM ET

When Brandon Isaac smacked into Adarius Bowman’s ribcage a little more than six weeks ago, the blow took the wind out the Edmonton Eskimos’ sails.

The Eskimos managed to finish off that win July 23 at McMahon Stadium, but in the process, they lost receiver Bowman, who was off to a hot start.

It turned out to be the same something awful in Edmonton.

After squeaking by the Toronto Argonauts a week later, the Esks started to lose receivers at a rapid rate and then games, as well.

Fred Stamps, Jason Barnes and Marcus Henry went out with significant injuries, and the Eskimos went into a three-game slide.

For Monday’s Labour Day Classic (2:30 p.m.), Bowman is back from the fractured rib he suffered thanks to the solid wallop from the Calgary Stampeders linebacker.

“It knocked the wind out of me,” Bowman said. “For a second, that’s all I thought it was. I went to the doctor to get evaluated and found it was a fractured rib.

“I consider myself a tough guy, but I had to go through the healing process.

“The biggest thing was we started off so great (5-0). Team chemistry was rocking from camp right into the season. It was tough to be out.”

Isaac is happy to see Bowman recover from his injury, and he expects to see him again Monday in some one-on-one matchups.

If the same play is there again, Isaac will hit with the same purpose: Trying to knock the ball loose.

Bowman held on the last time, but Isaac expects that the team that wins the individual battles will come out ahead.

“The most physical team wins because you put so much force on the other team,” Isaac said. “It makes them pull away a little bit. Hopefully, we’re the most physical team.”

Since that meeting, the Stamps and Eskimos have gone in opposite directions.

The Stamps haven’t lost since that night, cleaning up with two wins against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and one each the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Montreal Alouettes at home.

Early in the season, the Stamps were the ones getting beat up physically as they lost some key players, but things have changed recently.

With that 24-19 victory, the Eskimos surprised the Stamps a bit, especially since Calgary swept the series last year and outscored their provincial rivals by 104 points over three games..

There will be no underestimating them a second time.

“Edmonton, the past couple years, hasn’t had a strong team,” running back Joffrey Reynolds said. “They sure talk like they are a tough team.

“When you get into a rivalry, each team wants to go out and show who is tougher, especially on each other’s turf. I would say in this game, with Edmonton being a good team this year, it will be a physical game.”

Along with Bowman, Henry also returns from a concussion suffered a month ago in a loss at Winnipeg.

Bowman should make the biggest impact, as he was adapting well to the slotback position the Eskimos moved him to during training camp.

In four games, the former Blue Bombers and Roughriders pass-catcher had 15 catches for 248 yards and a touchdown, which put him on a pace for an 1,100-yard season.

“Early in the season, he was big for us offensively,” Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray said. “He caught some short passes and then made some guys miss. He’s a big guy, and he can be physical. He can make some plays. This is a playmaker on offence we haven’t had in a few weeks.”

Fully healed, Bowman just hopes he can pick up where he left off, even if that means he’s the No.-1 option instead of the third one behind Stamps and Barnes.

“From Calgary’s standpoint, I might be the focus,” Bowman said. “The biggest thing is I’m back out there. It’s just up to me to play well.

“I came into this season with a lot to prove, not to everyone else but to myself.

I wanted to prove I could be a key player in this league and across the world.”


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