Tompkins loses mother

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

Devastating news has followed Tony Tompkins's best game of the year.

The Edmonton Eskimos' kick/punt returner has lost his mother to cancer.

Tangela died of colon cancer on Tuesday.

Tompkins has left the team - and the club isn't expecting him back for Sunday's game in Montreal. (11 a.m. MT, TSN/CHED)

While nothing is official - regarding Tompkins' return date from Texas or his replacement for this weekend - newcomer Damien Anderson will likely be activated to the roster.

With kickoff return experience with the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL, Anderson would be a logical replacement.

AFFECTS WHOLE TEAM

But after averaging 25 yards per kickoff last week against the Alouettes, Tompkins and the special teams unit was starting to show some real promising signs.

Regardless, thoughts within the Eskimo locker-room are with him.

"From my understanding, Tony's mother was the dominant parent in his life," said friend and teammate Trevor Gaylor yesterday.

"She is almost like a friend to Tony.

"Tony always calls her after games.

"Calls her before games.

"To hear him talk to his mom - you ask: 'Who you talking to?'

"Because it is such a friendly conversation.

"I couldn't imagine what he is going through right now.

"He was so close to her."

Special teams coach Scott Squires is hoping players will rally around Tompkins when he returns.

"In my opinion, this is a time when a team needs to galvanize around Tony and support him and support him through playing great," said Squires.

"And we will just wait for him to come back.

"And when he is ready to be here we will be ready to roll."

Tangela's battle with cancer might be part of the reason Tompkins has struggled through most of his third year with the club.

At one point this season, Tompkins was benched.

While Anderson is expected to play in Montreal, the Esks will likely use somebody else on punts and at least one more body with Anderson on kickoffs.

INJURY BUG HURTS

But injuries will force the club to go very deep on the bench.

Of the five players who have returned punts this year only Tyler Ebell will be on the roster this week.

And after Ebell's struggles on special teams earlier this year, he isn't going to be part of the mix on Sunday.

But without Fred Stamps (appendix), Lenny Williams (knee) and Pat Woodcock (knee), Edmonton could use defensive back Jason Goss or receiver T.J. Acree on punt returns.

Mike Bradley will likely be used on kickoffs.

SHORT YARDAGE: DEFENSIVE END ADAM BRAIDWOOD WAS HELD OUT OF SOME PRACTICE DRILLS YESTERDAY AS HE CONTINUES TO REST A SORE FOOT AND HIP. BUT IT APPEARS HE WILL BE ABLE TO PLAY THIS WEEKEND ... NEW DEFENSIVE END TIM CHEATWOOD HAS A SOLID CHANCE OF BEING ACTIVATED THIS WEEK. WITH IMPORT KENNY HOLLIS STILL NOT ALLOWED TO PRACTISE BECAUSE OF A HAMSTRING INJURY, CHEATWOOD COULD TAKE HIS ROSTER SPOT ON SUNDAY ... DEFENSIVE BACK STANFORD SAMUELS (FOOT) WAS A BYSTANDER FOR MOST OF YESTERDAY'S DRILLS, BUT THE CLUB IS STILL HOPING TO HAVE HIM IN THE LINEUP AGAINST THE ALS.


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