CALGARY - It was his first start, so Tad Kornegay was glad when it finished.
With no training camp to prepare for a 60-minute grind of a CFL game, the veteran defensive back had an empty tank when the Stampeders left Regina last Saturday.
At least he could jump on an airplane and cruise home.
“I was tired,” Kornegay said. “I was exhausted. It was my first game like that since Grey Cup (when he helped the B.C. Lions beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers).
“I needed that. I wanted to break the ice. I feel back to normal now. I’m prepared to play a full game this week.”
Kornegay was thrown into a starting role during the middle of the week heading into a 17-10 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but it appears he’s keeping the job.
Quincy Butler suffered a bruised knee after banging into a teammate during practice last week, so Kornegay took over at halfback.
During Friday’s practice at McMahon Stadium, Kornegay took the majority of first-team reps at halfback, even with Butler available.
While it had been a while since the eight-year veteran had played a full game, it’s even longer since he’s been part of the Labour Day tradition weekend.
A year ago, after getting released by the Roughriders early in the season, he hooked up with the Lions.
Every season, with three other traditional rivals going at it, the Lions travel to Montreal for a Friday night date. It doesn’t have the same cache as the Sunday afternoon in Regina, or Monday afternoons in Hamilton and Calgary.
Every year of Kornegay’s career prior to 2011, he was part of that tradition, first with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and then for four years with the Riders.
Monday’s meeting with the Edmonton Eskimos will be his first taste of the Battle of Alberta.
“I feed off the energy of the crowd,” Kornegay said. “This is just as big as the Saskatchewan game, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.
“I love how everybody is interacting. I feed off that energy, both negative and positive. Let the best man win. When I was (in Regina), we won most of them.”
The Riders haven’t lost to the Bombers the day before Labour Day since 2004.
This year, the Riders are looking to end a five-game losing skid that started and continued thanks to the Stamps.
It was fitting that Kornegay’s first start for Calgary came against Saskatchewan and was a victory. That was the same thing that happened last year when he joined the Lions.
Now, he’s used to being a visitor to Regina, but he still feels like a favourite there.
“They still love me,” Kornegay said. “Rider nation have the craziest fans of all-time. I’ve never played in the NFL, but there are no other fans like the Roughrider fans. They are good people in Saskatchewan.”
It was odd for Kornegay to get a slow start on the season after signing July 23, but now he’s finally through the camp stage. The legs are coming underneath him.
“It was cool to miss training camp,” Kornegay said. “But there’s no other way to condition yourself to be in a game without being there. It sets you back a little bit. I think I’m ready now.
“My body is trained now and prepared for a full game. I’m working on my angles and breaking on ball. I’m fully prepared for this game to get a win for this team.”
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