Stampeders' Drew Tate set for return

Drew Tate might be the Stamps' starting QB next week. (Fred Thornhill/Reuters)

Drew Tate might be the Stamps' starting QB next week. (Fred Thornhill/Reuters)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:57 AM ET

Drew Tate bristles at the notion he’s going out Friday to sharpen his skills, get some action and to then take a seat.

When the Calgary Stampeders’ No. 1 quarterback gets in — and the timing is a closely guarded secret held by head coach John Hufnagel — he’s going full out with thoughts of knocking off the B.C. Lions.

“It’s not a tuneup — we’re playing to win,” Tate said Thursday ahead of his first action inside the lines since Week 2, when he dislocated his left shoulder.

“The last five times we’ve played them, we’ve won once. It was when they were in their old stadium (in Week 2 last year). This is an extremely important game for us.

“This is a new start for me.”

The Lions, even with first place locked up, feel the same way.

On Friday night (7 p.m., TSN, QR77), they get Geroy Simon back after their leader missed three games with a hamstring injury.

Controversial defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell is also back after missing four games due to injury and team suspension, while quarterback Mike Reilly starts in place of Travis Lulay, who is bothered by a shoulder injury.

The Lions are looking for cohesion going into the post-season, just like the home team.

While Kevin Glenn makes the start for the Stamps as the offence tries to rebound from a seven-turnover performance last week, Tate will get worked in at some point.

Hufnagel will have a decision to make if Tate plays well and shows he can handle hits on his surgically repaired shoulder.

“When he gets on the field, I would like to see him being Drew Tate,” Hufnagel said. “Be a comfortable quarterback, reading the field and making plays.

“I’m surprised Drew is back in uniform. He’s worked extremely hard with his rehab. (In July). It took several days to contemplate whether he should get operated on or not. When he did make that decision, he came out and told me he would be back. I’m pleased that he is.”

The Lions have quarterback issues themselves. If Lulay doesn’t play next week, he will go into the West final Nov. 18 having not faced real defences for a month. Head coach Mike Benevides hopes to get him in next week at home against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“Certainly next week, he has to get some snaps, for sure, so we get some rhythm back before taking another week off,” Benevides said.

Glenn is caught in the middle of the Stamps situation, but he’s handling it with class — as always. The Stamps have a 9-5 record in Glenn’s starts this season, but the veteran isn’t bothered that Tate is getting time on the field.

“I’m a team guy, so I’m looking at the bigger picture,” Glenn said. “I know why both of us are playing. If you have two good quarterbacks who have shown they can win, you have to make sure both are ready going into the playoffs.”

If all goes well for the Stampeders, this won’t be the last time they see the Lions.

Tate doesn’t even want to hear about that.

He is solely focused on this game, winning and proving he’s made a full recovery.

The 28-year-old admits he’s not as physically strong as he was at the start of the season, but the injury has made him tougher.

“There is no question that I’m mentally stronger,” Tate said. “I’ve faced the adversity and you know what it takes.

I know how to come back from it. I did this two years ago, but I wasn’t out as long.

“Injuries are adversity, and any time a player has it, they will come back stronger. Adversity happens to every unit on every team. There’s stuff outside of football. You just focus on what is important. The only thing I’m focused on is preparation and execution.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNIanBusby


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