EDMONTON - Ricky Ray can’t be accused of playing favourites this year.
The Edmonton Eskimos quarterback helped his two top receivers, Fred Stamps and Adarius Bowman, end up with the exact same receiving yards over the regular season.
While Stamps went into Friday’s season finale with the team lead, Bowman evened things out with a 10-catch, 226-yard and two-touchdown performance on his way to being named the CFL Gibson’s Finest offensive player of the week.
“It took Adarius to go 200-plus to equal it out, but that’s been a good thing for us offensively this year,” Ray said. “We don’t have to try and get No. 2 (Stamps) the ball the whole time and that just makes defences play a little bit more honest.
“And it helps us out offensively because we don’t have to try and force the ball into Fred, we can just take what they give us and spread the ball around.”
Not only was it the top performance of the season by a CFL receiver, but it moved Bowman into the eighth spot on the club’s single-game list.
Bowman finished second on the squad with 62 receptions, a league-high 18.6 yards-per-catch and 1,153 yards — a mark that ranks both him and Stamps fourth overall in the CFL.
“It’s almost appropriate that it would end up that those guys have identical numbers,” said head coach Kavis Reed, adding Stamps missed three games due to injury and Bowman, four. “I would be interested to have seen what their numbers would have been if they had played a full season.
“The guy that probably is not talked about, Jason Barnes, is probably the most important one in that whole situation simply because Jason takes advantage of the opportunities he gets and he also takes a lot of pressure off of those guys by the little things he does.”
If Stamps and Bowman take Barnes out for dinner to say thank you, it would only be appropriate to split the bill 50-50, just like their yardage.
“I don’t know what the chances are of that, one in a million, I guess,” Bowman said. “The biggest thing right now is to focus on Calgary. It was a great week, I enjoyed everything, but I’ve got to stay focused.
Another thing they share is Sunday’s semifinal against the Calgary Stampeders will be their first home playoff game in Commonwealth Stadium.
“It’s exciting,” said Stamps, who arrived here in 2007 and led the Eskimos over the last three.
Make that co-led 2011.
“That’s kind of weird. I’ve never seen anything like that,” Stamps said. “We talked about it (Sunday) night, it was kind of crazy.
“But I guess that’s how everything played out this year. I’m happy for him. A lot of teams can’t just focus on me anymore.”
IN AND OUT: The Eskimos are expecting to get RG Greg Wojt (ankle), LB J.C. Sherritt (ankle) and DL Greg Peach (knee) back in time for Sunday’s West Division semifinal. All three sat out last Friday’s regular season finale in order to mend up for playoffs.
“There is no question we are going to have them practise,” said Reed. “We will assess it on a daily basis and we are going to see if they are going to be available as of Sunday.”