Veteran Stamps ready for Stampeders
By Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency
|A healthy Fred Stamps is ready to take the field against Calgary for the first time since 2009. (Reuters)
CALGARY — The Edmonton Eskimos aren't the Edmonton Eskimos without Fred Stamps.
If that's the case, then it wasn't the Eskimos who dropped all three games to Calgary and were outscored by 104 points in 2010, while Stamps was on the mend from a shoulder injury sustained in Week 6.
Despite missing the next four weeks Ñ three of which were against Calgary Ñ Stamps led the Eskimos for the second straight year with 80 catches for 1,223 yards and five touchdowns.
But the fifth-year veteran out of Louisiana-Lafayette isn't buying any of it.
"The Edmonton Eskimos are the Edmonton Eskimos with or without me," said Stamps, who led the league in receiving yards in 2009. "No one man can make a team. It's a team effort. They could win without me, they could win with me, it doesn't matter. We're a team."
If he could have his way, the Eskimos will win with him Saturday.
"I didn't get a chance to play (against Calgary) last year at all, but that's how everything happens," said Stamps. "It's always tough to sit there and watch our team go down."
And with their most potent weapon sidelined with a shoulder injury, the view from the field wasn't any better.
"It's good to have him back," said Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray. "Last year, Calgary caught us at our low point and we didn't play well against them at all.
"But it's nice to be full strength against these guys, because you need to be. They're a good football team and defensively, they throw a lot of pressure at you, they challenge you with a lot of man-to-man coverage, so you want to have your top guys."
Topping that list is Stamps.
"He's been our No. 1 playmaker here for the last few years," Ray said. "Whenever you don't have him in the lineup, that's a big part of your offence that's unavailable. So it's nice to have him."
Especially with the stage set for a first-place showdown in the West Division.
"Last year was a different story," Ray said. "They were playing pretty well, and we obviously weren't. This year, we're battling for first place and it should make these games much more interesting."
But it doesn't change their focus for Saturday.
"I just look at it like any other game," Stamps said. "We just want to play football, we want to go out there and win."