EDMONTON - Jason Barnes doesn’t anticipate having second thoughts the next time he needs to reach up for a ball.
Despite rupturing his spleen last season and cracking ribs this year, the Edmonton Eskimos receiver won’t be developing alligator arms any time soon.
“I’m sure once I’m running around it’s something that I’m not going to be thinking about,” Barnes said. “It just comes with the game. By the time it’s game time, I’m not going to be worried about it.”
Barnes, 27, is nearing a return to the lineup and could suit up as early as Friday against the Montreal Alouettes at Commonwealth Stadium.
The Sacramento State product has missed the last four games after taking a shot in the ribs late in the Eskimos first encounter against the Alouettes.
“Lucky it was at the end of the game, I only had two series to play, but after the game it was something I definitely felt,” Barnes said. “In the first week after that, I had trouble sleeping. But I’m kind of used to this kind of stuff now, it is what it is.”
A year ago, Barnes’ season came to a premature end when sandwiched making a catch against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, suffering a ruptured spleen, a bruised kidney and lung. At the time there was doubt whether he would be able to play football again.
Yet Barnes made an impressive recovery, and despite being cut at the beginning of training camp due to concerns over an ankle injury then being re-signed, had been one of the team’s most effective receivers. Prior to getting hurt, Barnes had 29 catches for 524 yards and three touchdowns.
“I feel really good, I had a good week of practice last week and I worked out pretty hard this weekend, so I’m going to practice this week and see how it feels,” Barnes said. “It’s looking good for Friday, although I haven’t been cleared technically, but it’s looking good.”
When asked about Barnes’ status, Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed wouldn’t tip his hand, simply stating the receiver was better than 50%.
“I’m just excited to get back out there. Everybody is getting healthy. We’re just looking forward to this playoff run right before the end of season,” Barnes said. “ Hopefully I can catch my stride again and click like we were before. We have so many weapons on this team, so it’s going to be pretty easy to fit back in because they have so many other options with the ball. I just want to play my part and see how it goes.”
Barnes’s return will add to an offence that found its stride in an impressive 38-23 win over the Ticats in Hamilton last Friday.
“It’ll open things up a lot,” said receiver Fred Stamps, who had 14 catches in the win over Hamilton. “Jason is a great receiver, so when he comes in, it makes things easier and better for our offence. Last week everything was clicking. We have to try and have a great week of practice and try to do it again on Friday.”
NOTES: The Eskimos have brought back defensive back Wopamo Osaisai. The Stanford product made the team out of training camp, but was released on Sept. 1.
“I went back to California, then I got a call on Tuesday to come back,” Osaisai said. “I’m happy to be here and being part of the team again and looking forward to contributing any way possible.
“It’s not an ideal situation to be cut, but at the same time you have to be content with what you’ve done and be confident things will work out for the best.”