T.J. Acree is officially out. Fred Stamps is finally in.
That is the deal with the Edmonton Eskimos' receiving corps as they prepare to battle the Saskatchewan Roughriders tomorrow in Regina.
As expected, the Esks have scratched Acree from the active roster because of a stress fracture on the top of his left foot.
FIRST-EVER CFL GAME
That means Stamps will play his first-ever CFL regular season game. But it also means quarterback Ricky Ray has lost a very dependable and knowledgeable play-maker.
"Fred is a very good athlete," said Ray. "It is just that he has to get the offence down a little bit. Obviously, T.J. has been in this system for the last three years so he is pretty good with being in the right spot."
Ray is referring to the fact Acree played the past two years in B.C. under current Edmonton offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine. Stamps does believe he has a good grasp on the play book.
"The guys help me out a lot," said Stamps. "When we went through walkthroughs, T.J. helped me out a lot. Tuck (Jason Tucker) helped me a lot. So I know the offence pretty good. I am just ready to get thrown into the fire."
With Tucker expected to play but clearly hurting from a knee/thigh problem, the entire receiving core is going to have to step up. There is also the matter of Ray being comfortable with Stamps' body language while running routes.
Being able to read receivers before they come open is a key part of any quarterback's job.
"It is still coming along," said Ray on learning Stamps' language. "I haven't had as much work with him yet. But for the most part I feel pretty comfortable with him. But it is definitely going to be a learning process this week."
Then there is the issue of rust.
Stamps is a 25-year-old rookie import with the club and hasn't played a regular-season game since college.
"I have been on the practice squad for the last two years," he said, referring to time on NFL practice fields with Baltimore and Jacksonville.
He did play in the pre-season with Edmonton, though, and isn't worried about rust.
"The pre-season and regular-season games are the same to me," he explained. "Bullets are still flying. You are still going to get hit just as hard."
"You still have to catch the ball. You still have to make your blocks."
The Louisiana native is usually easy to spot around the Eskimos compound because of his long black hair. But he has been all over the practice field this week, rarely dropping the ball.
The Esks hope that trend continues tomorrow against the Roughriders.