EDMONTON - There's catching, then there's catching up.
Fred Stamps was doing a little bit of both as his participation at Edmonton Eskimos training camp increased to the point where he was running routes and catching passes Wednesday at the Commonwealth Stadium indoor fieldhouse.
It was the most activity coaches have allowed the all-star slotback, who required a third surgery on his abdomen two weeks before camp got underway.
“The coaches mixed me in, threw me in a little bit so it felt pretty good,” said Stamps, who had surgery to remove a testicle six weeks into the 2011 season after being inadvertently kicked by Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Jonathan Hefney.
While he returned for a late-season rally and helped the Eskimos reach the West Division final last year, a pair of follow-up surgeries severely interrupted his training regimen.
“I didn’t get a chance to condition like I wanted to this off-season,” said Stamps, who won’t play in the first preseason game against Calgary. “That’s just something I’ll have to deal with, a lot of running.
“It feels like my legs are coming back. It was a fun day. I’m getting my cuts and getting used to the balls from the quarterbacks.”
Which may take some more getting used to, considering it was Stamps’s first official Eskimos practice since joining the team in 2007 that didn’t involve Ricky Ray.
“We’ve got pretty good quarterbacks and I got a chance to see how they throw, and catch a few balls from them. They have really good arms,” said Stamps, who is being reunited with Steven Jyles, who was the Eskimos third-string quarterback during Stamps’s rookie season.
“When I came in 2007, I didn’t really get a chance to get on the field and Steve was one of the guys who kept me around and threw me the ball on the practice squad,” Stamps recalled. “There’s not too much difference, he’s still got the same arm.”
Only now, both are coming into training camp as starters instead of stringers.
“He’s smarter, he’s more in a leader role,” Stamps said. “He’s speaking up in meetings and taking advantage of his opportunity.
“He doesn’t have to be Ricky Ray, he’s not trying to be Ricky Ray.”
CAMP INTENSE: Wednesday’s session saw Eskimos coaches ramp up the intensity, especially after a skirmish broke out between offensive and defensive players.
Although the majority weren’t involved, innocent and guilty alike were reprimanded by running a series of ladders.
“We’re a team and when we do things like this, they understand teamwork,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “Things happen and if it happens in a game it’s a 15-yard penalty that could cost us a big play.
“We have to be smart about it.”
PLAYER-COACH: Reed put the whistle down and let his actions do the talking, defending rookie receiver Shamawd Chambers in the morning session.
“Just trying to help him,” said a visibly sweating Reed, 39, who played defensive back for the Eskimos from 1995-99. “We just want to make sure he gets up to speed as much as possible and stay on target with our progress plan for him.
“It keeps an old guy young. I let myself get out of shape last year.”