Tate ponders surgery

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Drew Tate grabs his left arm as he is attended to by trainers after...

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Drew Tate grabs his left arm as he is attended to by trainers after being injured during the first half of their CFL football game against the Toronto Argonauts in Toronto July 7, 2012. (Mike Cassese/REUTERS)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:41 PM ET

CALGARY - These must be sleepness nights for Calgary Stampeders quarterback Drew Tate.

As fierce a competitor as you’ll find even in the adrenaline-fuelled world of professional football, Tate is wrestling with the reality that he’ll need surgery to repair his twice-dislocated left shoulder.

Whether he goes under the knife now or after the season is up to him.

“I wish I could set the record straight,” Calgary Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel told reporters Saturday morning at McMahon Stadium.

“Right now, Drew is doing a lot of contemplating on, ‘What should the procedure be?’ He’s not comfortable yet making the decision whether he should have surgery now or wait until, hopefully, after the season — hopefully meaning that if he elects to play, he doesn’t re-injure himself.”

There’s the rub.

Until he goes under the knife, there’s always a risk Tate’s left shoulder will slip out of joint again.

He suffered the same injury during the exhibition finale in 2011, missing the first five games of the regular season as a result. The latest injury occurred when the 27-year-old Texan slipped to the turf last weekend at Rogers Centre, forcing him to exit in the first quarter of a 39-36 loss to the Toronto Argonauts.

“Pain-wise, it’s not like it was the first time,” Tate said in a post-game scrum.

That’s the scary part.

Until doctors can repair the damage, the former University of Iowa Hawkeyes standout is only one hit away from dislocating his non-throwing shoulder again.

If he doesn’t go under the knife right away, Tate could rehab and return to the field in four to six weeks with a harness on, although there’s no guarantee he would stay healthy for the remainder of the season.

Tate, who wasn’t available for interviews Saturday, is the youngest starting signal-caller in the CFL and if surgery now is the only way to ensure he’ll be healthy for the opening week of 2013, it’s probably the best move.

There’s a reason the Stamps employ the most experienced backup quarterback in the eight-team loop, and Kevin Glenn can get this talented troupe to the playoffs. As evidence, he’s been a starter in the post-season for six straight years.

If Tate does have the operation sometime soon, there’s even a possibility he could be tossing passes before the playoffs begin.

“(The recovery time) would probably be a lot of the season, at least, and quite possibly be the season,” Hufnagel said. “On the other hand, he’d be fully prepared to play the following year.”

Hufnagel also revealed during Saturday’s availability that coverage linebacker Demetrice Morley has a tear in his shoulder and might require surgery, while defensive back Keon Raymond is questionable for this week with a groin pull and slotback Jabari Arthur will be sidelined with a recurring hamstring issue.

Morley and Raymond are both key contributors on the defensive side of the ball, but Tate’s conundrum will remain the big story at McMahon Stadium until he makes up his mind.

For the Stamps, it’s a waiting game.

For Tate, it must be a mental tug-of-war. He spent parts of five CFL campaigns in a third-string or backup role and has to be frustrated that his first full season as a starter could be spoiled by a shoulder injury in Week 2.

“It’s entirely his decision,” Hufnagel said. “He’s getting as much advice as possible and it’s going to take a bit longer for him to come up with that decision.

“Obviously, I’d want (the timeline on the decision) to be days, a week,” he added. “If surgery is the way we go with it, we can get it booked and get it done and, hopefully, have him available as soon as possible, possibly by the end of the season.”


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