Stamps' lineman hopes to see CFL action soon

Calgary Stampeders DL, Corey Mace during training camp at McMahon Stadium. Monday June 20  2011....

Calgary Stampeders DL, Corey Mace during training camp at McMahon Stadium. Monday June 20 2011. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:58 PM ET

The moment Corey Mace was carted off the field July 1, the thought was ‘see ya next year.’

There was some slim hope that if surgery on his torn Achilles went well and there were no problems in rehab, maybe he could make a stab at a Grey Cup return.

But now, a week away from the West final in Vancouver, there is a real chance the second-year Calgary Stampeders defensive tackle makes a charge back into the lineup.

“It was always a long-shot,” said Mace, who returned to practice this week to work in individual drills and scout team. “Now we’re here, it’s more and more realistic.

“The (doctors) said it was a longshot for the Grey Cup. It was more of a ‘hope you feel better thing.’

“Now it’s moving really fast.”

If Mace did return, he would bolster an interior defensive line that is playing really well right now. Both rookies Brian Bulcke and Junior Turner have meshed well with veteran DeVone Claybrooks in the rotation at the tackle position.

Having Mace available would be a bonus.

The fact the 25-year-old Canadian is even taking reps gives head coach John Hufnagel hope there would be the option of playing him in the next two weeks.

“Each day, we get a better feel on things,” Hufnagel said. “I’m being optimistic we are still playing and he can play.

“If he’s not healthy, he’s not playing. Any time you come back from surgery, you get on the field and the doctors, the trainers and your own mind have to believe you are ready to go. Once that occurs, you can play, and the consequences are the consequences.”

Mace said there is no more of a re-injury risk if he plays now compared to when he was slated to return next year at training camp.

He still needs to do plenty of strength and stretching exercises on the tendon on a daily basis, though.

It’s a lonely existence hobbling around on crutches for months while teammates are playing games, but Mace battled hard through the rehab process.

“Even off the field, I tried to stick around with the guys,” Mace said. “When it comes to game-time, you know when you are supposed to around and when you aren’t.

“If I’m not playing, I’m not going to step on a guy’s toes when they are focused. Believe me, when they win, I celebrate with them.”

So Mace will be rooting on his team hard this weekend to get a chance at a remarkable return.

“How I felt from last week to this week, it’s pretty good,” Mace said. “Now that I’ve done this (practice) and I will get some rest this weekend … Hopefully the guys pull through with the victory.

“There’s no telling what will happen.”


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