July 24, 2012
Eskimos’ Stamps, Jyles work on connecting
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
Fred Stamps needs no reminder of his last game at CanadInns Stadium.
After all, he left a piece of himself behind in Winnipeg after taking a kick to the groin by Blue Bombers defensive back Jonathan Hefney, which saw the Edmonton Eskimos slotback finish the game in pain before being taken to hospital to have a testicle surgically removed.
“No, I can’t go into Winnipeg thinking about that,” said Stamps, who required two follow-up surgeries to his lower abdomen over the off-season. “It happened, I put it behind me and I want to move forward from it.
What hasn’t been able to bounce back as quickly this season is his receiving yardage.
While he leads the team with 13 receptions, he has just 110 yards to show for them four games into the season.
That ties him for 30th overall in the league he led in 2009 with 1,402 receiving yards on 85 receptions. Last season, he tied teammate Adarius Bowman with 1,153 yards to lead the Eskimos while tying a career-high eight touchdowns.
This year, he has yet to score one. And Stamps is still 35 yards behind the injured Bowman — who was lost for the season with a knee injury in Week 2 — despite playing twice as many games.
Of course, a key piece missing this season is former quarterback Ricky Ray and the familiarity they shared as the Eskimos top connection for three seasons.
“There’s a difference, but that’s still not an excuse,” Stamps said. “Things happen, every receiver has (gone through) it before. The best have (gone through) it before. I really don’t worry about that, I’m going to go out there and make plays.
“It really don’t matter, as long as we’re winning.”
But it matters to the new player tasked with getting him the ball.
While Steven Jyles has managed to find Stamps more than any other receiver at his disposal, he would like the next one to count for six points.
“That’s a lot of pressure but that’s just because I’m the starting quarterback and he’s the start receiver,” Jyles said. “For us not to have that connection early on, it’s a bit frustrating but we’ve been working.
“We understand that the defences give us a look that doesn’t allow us to come to him a lot, but we’re keeping our eyes on him and we’re looking at him to get him the ball.”
To be fair, both Jyles and backup Kerry Joseph hit Stamps in the end zone last week at BC Place Stadium, but he was separated from the ball by Dante Marsh on one and uncharacteristically dropped another that hit his hands.
“I told him in B.C., ‘We made a lot of improvement. I’m just an inch off.’ I missed him on one that would have been a touchdown that he had to try to catch with one hand.
“We’re looking forward to connecting this week.”
At the same time, Stamps will no doubt do all he can to avoid any similar connection with Hefney in the future, though the two have spoke since the incident.
“Yeah, I talked to him,” Stamps said. “No hard feelings or anything like that.
“Hefney, he’s a good guy.”