Upping the ante in CFL Battle of Alberta

Calgary Stampeders LaMarcus Coker evades a tackle by Malik Jackson during the Red and White game at...

Calgary Stampeders LaMarcus Coker evades a tackle by Malik Jackson during the Red and White game at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, on June 10, 2012. (MIKE DREW/QMI AGENCY)

Ian Busby, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:29 PM ET

CALGARY - It turns out LaMarcus Coker’s knee isn’t that bad, but Jon Cornish is still a bit mad.

During Friday’s pre-season matchup against the Edmonton Eskimos at McMahon Stadium, Coker was forced to leave with a knee injury, and he went straight for an MRI to see the extent of the damage.

By that time, Cornish was already done for the night, but the Calgary Stampeders starting running back’s final play resulted in a shoving match that drew an unnecessary roughness penalty.

A helmetless Cornish fought his way out of a pile after going down on a three-yard reception.

“Edmonton wasn’t playing clean,” Cornish said. “They were taking body-shots — not shots that you associate with playing football. They were throwing punches. It’s not part of the game.

“I had two people on my legs. There was a dude pulling me back and a dude pushing me forward. Another guy ripped off my helmet. It was all good until my helmet was ripped off. My neck still hurts because it was ripped off. It set me off. I was in a position that was dangerous for my well-being.

“The second that happens, I’m getting out of that situation. I could sit there and be a good boy, or I can protect myself.”

When Cornish left the game, he could see the Eskimos going hard after his backup.

Three minutes into the third quarter, Coker came off the field after feeling some pain in his knee after a gang-tackle.

“They are just dirty,” Cornish said. “They were twisting up on his leg. It’s not cool.”

Coker’s MRI came back negative, which is good news for the Stampeders, but he will miss a few days of practice and skip Friday’s pre-season finale in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders (7 p.m.).

Certainly, the Stampeders caught a break, as they can go ahead with their plan of Cornish and Coker as a duo running the ball when the CFL regular season starts.

With the release of Bryson Tucker on Saturday, Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel said the team is looking to bring in another running back for depth.

Coker came to the team’s rundown Saturday and feels like if it was an important game this week, he could suit up. The injury is certainly not as bad as initially feared.

“Anytime you go for an MRI, you worry about what is going on,” said Coker, who had 31 yards on eight carries. “It didn’t really hurt that bad. I didn’t think it was too serious. I was sure it wasn’t season-ending.

“I walked off on my own power. It felt good to be out there playing football again. The first pre-season game is a little nerve-racking. It’s good to get back into things.”

Cornish is relieved Coker isn’t seriously hurt, although the Stamps’ starter isn’t quite happy that his workload might increase Friday.

“I was a bit worried,” Cornish said. “He will be back.

“Pre-season reps are scary. When you are in-season, normally playing against vets, they don’t try to hurt you. They just try to stop you.

“There is a big difference. I don’t like playing against people who want to hurt you. It’s not part of football.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: SUNIanBusby


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