Tucker 'a great leader'

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

Jason Tucker isn't playing in the East Division semifinal - but he could have a significant impact on this crossover playoff game.

Coming to Winnipeg for tomorrow's opening-round post-season battle between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Blue Bombers, Tucker has become Fred Stamps's personal teacher.

Receivers on the field with the Eskimos earlier this year, this pair now works together behind closed doors.

While Tucker could have disappeared from this city and not returned after breaking his neck in Week 5 of the regular season, he has continued to be a mentor for Stamps.

"Every day we would be sitting right next to each other in meetings," said Stamps as he prepared to leave Edmonton for the Manitoba capital today.

"He has been showing me how to break down a defence, showing me how to come off the waggle (running start at line of scrimmage). I am still learning. I am used to standing on the line (of scrimmage).

"I am learning something new every day from him."

It's a story of true leadership and character.

"That is what you call a great leader," said Stamps, who is in his second year with the Esks.

"A guy who could be home with his wife and kids, but he decided to be up here with his teammates. It's great. That is the type of guys you want to be around."

Stamps has been sitting on the sidelines since Oct. 4 with a leg injury.

But there is a strong possibility he will return to the field tomorrow in the East semifinal tilt.

And if he lights up the Bombers' secondary, some of the credit will have to go to Tucker - a CFL all-star who is facing an uncertain future with a brace still around his neck.

"He has all the tools, has all the skills," Tucker said of teammate Stamps.

"And I want to take (him) beyond that point - that extra step to become one of the top-tier receivers in the league.

"I told him: 'I am going to help you out.' "

Six years older and with five more years of CFL experience than Stamps, Tucker entered the CFL in 2002 without a mentor.

Nobody took him under a wing and showed him the ropes quite like this.

On pace for 1,000 yards before being injured, Stamps had 50 catches for 751 yards in the regular season.

A big outing tomorrow would go a long way toward extending the Eskimos' season for at least another week.

QUICK HIT: TUCKER BELIEVES HIS CLUB WILL BE EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE AGAINST THE BOMBERS.

"We will do good. It is going to be a tough fight," he said.

"We have to go out there and eliminate the mistakes.

"Turnovers (are) what has killed us."

TICKET COUNT: THE BOMBERS ARE SLOWLY INCHING TOWARD A POSSIBLE SOLD-OUT CROWD TOMORROW.

As of end of business yesterday, 26,200 tickets had been sold.

That's still 3,333 ducats short of a sell-out.

Bombers receiver Milt Stegall guaranteed a win if all tickets to Canad Inns Stadium are sold.

EXTRA POINTS: THE ESKIMOS WILL NEED A GREAT EFFORT FROM THEIR RUNNING BACKS - AJ HARRIS AND CALVIN MCCARTY - TO WIN TOMORROW.

That isn't news.

But what is interesting is that Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia is starting to shed some light on Harris's health.

"It's not like last week he was 100%. He wasn't even remotely close," said Maciocia.

Harris suffered an MCL strain Sept. 13 and has only played in two games since.

The rookie also suffered a quad muscle injury in practice just under three weeks ago.

Harris gained 26 yards on five carries in one half last week.


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