The Edmonton Eskimos could be without the services of Jerome Messam this week.
Their starting running back and West Division nominee for most-outstanding Canadian left last Sunday’s playoff semifinal in the third quarter with a leg injury.
As he turned to catch a short pass, Messam was submarined by Calgary Stampeders safety Demetrice Morley, who took out the ball-carrier’s legs out from underneath him.
Despite the size difference — Morley is six-foot-one, 185 pounds compared to Messam’s six-foot-three frame that holds 245 pounds — some players across the league throwing a virtual flag.
“Just saw the hit on Messam, that was BS.#coward no need to hit a guy low when he has his back turned,” Lions receiver Geroy Simon posted on Twitter.
The Eskimos, on the other hand, simply call it football.
“No, absolutely not,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “Put Jerome at full speed coming at you, what would you do?
“It was not a dirty hit.”
Reed has plenty of his own experience to rely on, having spent five seasons in the Eskimos secondary in the mid-90s.
“As a defensive back, I know the feeling where you’re coming up to make a tackle on a big guy, you’re going to probably go low,” said Reed, who recalled being concussed one time when tackling B.C. Lions running back Sean Millington a little too high. “From a coach’s perspective and a former defensive back, I’m going to say it’s absolutely 100% not.
“It was a football play and if we cry wolf about that I think that we will be culpable as well because a lot of our defensive backs go low too.”
Earlier in the game, Stampeders slotback Nik Lewis left for a series after having his knee buckled during a hit from Weldon Brown.
“I don’t think Jykine Bradley has ever tackled anyone above the knee,” Reed said of his five-foot-nine, 185-pound cornerback. “He knows everyone’s shoe size.
“It’s just the nature of the business. It’s the law of physics: 240 pounds versus 180 pounds. I think the low-ball is probably going to win if you’re low enough.”
Messam was meeting with team doctors at the same time Reed was holding his press conference on Monday, which saw the players get the day off from practice.
“An athlete of Jerome’s level and calibre, they’re always going to over-react when there’s a situation with an injury,” Reed said. “I will await what the doctor’s opinion is.
“(Sunday) night when I spoke with them they were very optimistic.”
IN AND OUT: LB J.C. Sherritt (ankle, broken finger), is expected to return to the Eskimos lineup on Sunday after being placed on the one-game injured list prior to last week’s West Division semifinal.
“I really feel there’s a strong possibillity,” Reed said. “Last week, I was the one that pulled the plug on J.C.
“We had medical clearance but we felt that it wasn’t prudent to put him in a situation where he wasn’t close to the 95% that we always say is the demarkation point for an injured player.
“This week, having had last week off, I think that he will be closer.”
Reed also listed RG Greg Wojt (ankle) as “a strong possibility,” to play, before adding: “But don’t quote me on that yet.”.