July 12, 2012
Eskimos' Stamps yet to connect
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - There is no doubt Fred Stamps is a 1,000-yard receiver.
Of course, at this rate it is going to take the Edmonton Eskimos slotback 47 more games to do it.
The team’s most potent offensive weapon has hardly shown the potential so far this year, being held to just 41 yards in the first two games of the season.
And for a receiver who has averaged 70 yards a game since leading the CFL in 2009, with 85 catches for 1,402 yards during his first four-figure season, his consistency isn’t in question.
The difference this year is the one trying to get him the ball.
While Stamps has yet to connect with Steven Jyles on anything longer than 17 yards this season, the two routinely show the ability to complete passes all over the practice field.
But come game time, Jyles has thrown a dozen passes Stamps’s way and only half have ended up complete.
It’s not that they aren’t trying. Jyles’s first three passes were sent Stamps’s way last week, followed by just two more the rest of the game — excluding another incompletion from backup Kerry Joseph.
So, will this be the game where Edmonton fans finally see a reconnection of a Stamps’s longball?
“We’re not going to force it,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “The defences have to give us the opportunity, the protection has to be there, the routes have to be called correctly.
“Time and space have to align for that to happen.”
Time, it turns out, is the one thing the Eskimos have going for them right now, as it’s early in the season.
“We’re going into week No. 3. The biggest thing is for us not to start to panic and to pick things apart but let things happen naturally,” Reed said. “Fred will get his touches, it will eventually happen.”
Like last year, when Stamps was all but shutout in Week 1 by the Saskatchewan Roughriders before catching seven balls for 178 yards and a touchdown the following week against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The difference is, the Eskimos won both of those games, whether or not Stamps was a factor.
But with this year’s squad coming off a demoralizing 17-1 loss to the Roughriders, Edmonton’s offence is looking to its big gun for answers.
“It’s just one of those tough things. We just have to trust each other and get out there and do what we have to do,” Stamps said. “Take our practice to the game field.
“This week, especially, we’ve been getting around and hitting the shots and everything. That’s one of the main things we went back to this week, is executing our plays and not shoving them under the rug.
“That’s all it is, is confidence.”
Which is something Jyles said he doesn’t lack, despite sporting a league-low 66.3 pass-efficiency rating.
“My confidence is very high,” he said. “I’ve always believed in myself.”
But for Eskimos fans to follow suit, he will have to find a way to involve Stamps more.
“When you’ve played two ball games and have had minimal snaps in those ball games, you’re going to have some problems here and there as far as where a guy’s going to be and how to throw to a guy,” Jyles said. “We’re looking to make big plays this week.”