Gass burns hot in his return

DEREK VAN DIEST, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

Defensively it was the perfect performance.

And not surprisingly right in the thick of it was A.J. Gass.

The Edmonton Eskimos middle linebacker was back on the field for the first time since injuring his knee during the final week of training camp. He helped shut out the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the second half en route to a 20-21 come from behind victory.

"He played well," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia. "You're always worried about when a guy comes back and he hasn't done much and the bullets are flying and they're going to try and take him down.

"You don't really practise that when people are knocking you down. But he was able to bounce up. He played well, he's a little bit sore (yesterday) but as we go along he's going to get better and he's huge to have back."

Originally Gass was expected to be out six to eight weeks with his injury.

He was back in a little over four.

"There's no grey with him, it's black and white," Maciocia said. "That's how he plays. It's not going to be one of those 'I'm going to play at 80% because I don't know if my knee can absorb some of the punishment.' He just goes all out and whatever happens, happens.

Gass finished the game with a pair of tackles. He was also one of the players who spoke during halftime to try and rally the troops down 20-1.

"That was a tremendous second-half performance," Maciocia.

"You don't really realize it at the time because you get caught up in coaching from one play to the next. You don't realize it until the next day and get a true appreciation for what all those 45-46,000 people were seeing.

"Even after the game it's hard to relate, because you're living it play-by-play as a coach.

"But it was a pretty good second half."


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