Gass set to return

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

After weeks of waiting, the Edmonton Eskimos could have two veterans - if not three - back on their playing roster during the Battles of Alberta.

Starting on Labour Day in Calgary, linebacker A.J. Gass and special teams demon Will Loftus could be back from nagging and frustrating hamstring injuries.

"A.J. has got a good chance of being in the starting line- up," said head coach Danny Maciocia yesterday. "It will be nice to have old No. 77 out there banging around (in practice this week) and he'll give us some energy for sure.

"That is the best news I have had all week."

In a year to forget so far for Gass, he has only played one half of one regular-season game, which was Canada Day in Winnipeg before he severely injured a hamstring.

But after missing six consecutive games, the heart and soul of the defence last year boldly announced yesterday his injured leg feels "perfect."

"I did a really good run session (on Monday) and didn't notice it all," said Gass. "I've been lifting and training this whole break. All I can say is that it feels great."

IRONY IN THE SITUATION

While the nine-year veteran sees the irony in the situation this year - being looked at by some as a potential saviour after spending some years fighting for a job early in his career - it's unclear how much Gass will play Monday if he's healthy.

But Maciocia did tip his hand a little yesterday

"If he can play, he'll play defence," said the coach.

But that doesn't necessarily mean regular middle linebacker Quincy Stewart will come out of the lineup.

While the Eskimos had a unique practice yesterday - splitting time between fundamental drills and some offensive/defensive formations - and don't start their regular routine until tomorrow, Stewart and Gass shared reps at middle linebacker.

As for Loftus, he's trying to erase his own nightmare beginning to 2006.

After rotator cuff surgery in the off-season, which put him behind to start training camp, he suffered a hamstring injury in his first game of the year on Aug. 4 in B.C., leaving him on the sidelines since.

"This is my own personal disaster within a disaster," he said. "But I'm going to be ready to play (this week)."

In full pads, the non-import safety worked in special teams punt drills yesterday.

"He's got a good chance (this week)," added the coach. "He's a valuable member (on special teams)."

Maciocia has until Saturday to take either or both players off the injured list.

ARRIVAL OF BRADY

As for former all-star defensive back Donald Brady, he will arrive this morning to rejoin the club after being released early this season.

"I don't think he'll play right away," admitted Maciocia.

"We are pretty happy on what the secondary has given us the last couple of weeks. The other thing is that Donny has been injured all year.

"This is the first time that he feels that he is ready to go."

Brady suffered a rib injury in the final pre-season game and then was released on June 19. If he clears his medical, he could practise tomorrow and may return to the defence on the back end of the Battle of Alberta series on Sept. 8.


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