Tucker comin' home

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

Jason Tucker won't play again this year - but he could provide an incredible emotional boost to the Edmonton Eskimos tonight.

After fracturing two vertebrae in his neck last Friday in Hamilton and going through surgery last weekend, Tucker is expected to be back in Edmonton before this evening's 8 p.m. kickoff.

While nobody is publicly stating Tucker will be inside the Eskimos locker-room before kickoff, that could definitely happen.

And if that does happen, the 42 players on the active roster and the coaching staff will receive a remarkable emotional lift less than a week after watching him break his neck.

"Hopefully he is here," said Eskimos president and CEO Rick LeLacheur. "And I know he made comment (on Tuesday) that he needed to get back in the locker-room and straighten those guys out."

But fun-loving humour aside, Tucker's attendance at tonight's game will greatly depend on how his body handles a flight from Toronto to Edmonton.

The all-star slotback has been in a Hamilton hospital room since late Friday night.

After the helmet-to-helmet hit with Hamilton defensive back Jykine Bradley on the final play of the third quarter that caused the damage and going through four-hour surgery on his neck late Saturday night, Tucker's world has drastically changed.

Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia painted the most vivid picture of Tucker's health yesterday.

"I have got a picture right now at the office with him in a neck brace, using a walker and walking," said Maciocia during the noon-hour yesterday.

"It is sobering, really, when you think about it because the first thing that crosses my mind is a few weeks ago he laid out for a one-handed catch and now he is using a walker to get from his (hospital) bed to the corridor and trying to get his rehab in.

"From what I understand he should be back in Edmonton within the next 24 hours but even if he happens to be here before the game, we don't even know how he will be feeling as far as coming to the game. So, we are just going to sit still and we are going to do what is best for Tucker."

While the media hasn't been able to question Tucker on the injury and what his future football plans might be, there is no pressure from within the Eskimo organization for a decision.

"I told him right from the start the most important thing is that he gets better to a point that he has the ongoing skills to be able to lift up his daughters," said LeLacheur.

"That was more important to us (as an organization) at the time and it still is. We know he is not going to play this year so there is lots of time to think about what is going to happen next year.

"Time will tell on that one."

QUICK HITS: Fellow Edmonton receiver and friend Kamau Peterson has taken over Tucker's role in the locker-room of reminding and gathering players for the 1:30 p.m. meeting before practice ... Five tackles and two sacks against Hamilton last Friday has brought Edmonton rookie Montez Murphy the CFL defensive player of the week honour. The defensive end actually contributed two of the club's eight sacks in the game.


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