Clearing his head

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

Stanford Samuels has his sights set on one major goal: playing this week.

After suffering a concussion in back-to-back games this fall, the Edmonton Eskimos' defensive back is hoping to return to the roster on Friday after missing last week's crucial win in Montreal.

"Oh yeah," he said yesterday afternoon. "It is coming down to the critical part of the season. I got to be out there."

Samuels didn't practise yesterday, but he did clear the critical first step in the test he must pass to return to the field for real action.

"There is protocol you have to go through in order to get back on the field coming from the concussion and post-concussion syndrome," he said.

"Basically, (I'm) following protocol, going step by step to make sure there are no setbacks. The first step of the protocol went fine.

"It is basically just to get some activity - heart rate up to make sure as my blood pressure went up, it didn't cause a headache."

Samuels rode a bike yesterday morning with no headache. The next hurdle is going for a run today with no post-concussion symptoms.

With Samuels staying home last weekend, rookie Chris Thompson started in the secondary.

But Samuels still got quite a workout while watching the game on TV at home. In fact, he gave himself a headache by getting so worked up.

"My neighbours probably thought somebody was robbing the house," Samuels quipped. "I was screaming."

NO COMPLAINTS

Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia isn't moaning about the back-to-back sets of games his club is playing. After the Labour Day series with Calgary and two straight against Montreal, the Esks are now facing back-to-back tilts with Toronto.

The first game in the huge series with the Argos is Friday in Edmonton. (7 p.m., CHED)

"I love them from a coach's perspective because you play, you get back to the office, you break down that film and you are ready to go again," said Maciocia.

It's a totally different ordeal if the Eskimos have to play a different opponent each week.

"Then you have to go back and research four or five games and see what you did against (the opponent) last year and take a look at their personnel and evaluate (their) strengths and weaknesses," explained the bench boss.

Maciocia doesn't expect a lot of new wrinkles for either team come Friday because everyone is operating on a very short week. Each team played last Sunday.

However, the second game in the set in Toronto on Oct. 6 will likely be different.

"That is when there are going to be a few more wrinkles, just like Montreal," he commented.

QUICK HITS

After having his best game of the season in Montreal, linebacker A.J. Gass didn't practise yesterday. But he will play Friday ... DT Robert Brown also watched practice. If Brown isn't healthy enough to play, Charles Alston will take his spot ... As usual, RB Tyler Ebell rested his injured shoulder and ankle yesterday, but is scheduled to join the practice today ... The Esks are breathing a sigh of relief as WR Kamau Peterson practised yesterday after injuring a thumb in Montreal. "It's good enough for me," said Peterson on the damaged digit ... Special teams demon Kenny Hollis is healthy enough to play this week after missing one game with a hamstring injury.


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