Bradley's fighting back

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

Mike Bradley isn't a betting man.

And that's a good thing because they haven't set the odds on him being in the Edmonton Eskimos lineup this week.

The 26-year-old special teams ace/kickoff returner/tailback got tangled up with a teammate on a missed field goal return last Friday and suffered a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

Bradley was helped off the field in the opening quarter and later limped out of Percival Molson Stadium following the loss to the Montreal Alouettes.

Despite being fitted with a brace to protect his injured knee, the five-foot-eight, 205-pound back didn't practise yesterday.

"It's the MCL and the rest of the knee seems stable, so it's just a matter of rehabbing it now," he said.

"I'd love to say that I'm going to play this week but I don't know if that's realistic yet or not. Ottawa (on July 21) is definitely the goal."

According to the speedy Bradley, the injury is not a new one. He tore both his MCL and anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee during his final season at Waterloo.

Despite an impressive career there, that injury effectively knocked Bradley off CFL team's radar screens for the 2001 Canadian college draft.

LESS PAIN

"There's a lot less pain than there was the time before and it's a lot more stable than any other time," he explained.

"I pretty much know where I stand and what my timeline for recovery is this time. I honestly feel I'll be ready in a week."

Mike Maurer is a solid bet to take over from Bradley and line up at the tailback spot when required. Maurer was on the roster last week which means Bradley's injury will allow Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia to add another non-import this week.

Still, replacing Bradley on special teams won't be as simple.

"His contribution on special teams is going to be missed," said Maciocia. "That's why we've got to find out who can line up at the arrow on the kickoff team and who can line up as a fullback on the punt team."

While Bradley is doubtful, there's no question who the Esks' featured back will be for Friday's clash with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Commonwealth Stadium.

Maciocia has pencilled in Ron McClendon to start at tailback. McClendon was added to the roster after Elvis Joseph sustained a rib injury during the last meeting between the Esks and Blue Bombers.

"He did everything we asked him to do so we're very happy with his play," Maciocia said of McClendon.

"(McClendon) will play Friday. He's going to play, he's earned it."

McClendon left the Montreal game with five carries for 12 yards and had six receptions for another 79 yards and his first CFL touchdown.

Although McClendon's rushing totals pale next to the receiving numbers, Maciocia isn't overly concerned with the fact his tailback is more effective catching the ball than running it.

"I thought he had a great football game," said the head coach.

NOT BIG ON NUMBERS

"I know the numbers maybe don't support the argument but I'm not big on numbers. When he carried the football he did a great job.

"If you think about those touchdowns that we scored early in the game, he converted situations of second and 10 where he got a five-yard pass and was able to get himself another five yards and move the sticks."


Videos

Photos