November 7, 2012
Eskimos slotback Fred Stamps mixed offence with a little defence
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - Fred Stamps hauled in the CFL’s offensive player of the month award for an October where he had 24 receptions for 585 yards, five touchdowns and … a tackle?
The Edmonton Eskimos all-star slotback is a familiar name on the offensive stats sheet, finishing the regular season with 70 catches for 1,310 yards for his fourth quadruple-digit season in a row, to go along with a career-high nine touchdown receptions.
But he also ended up on the defensive list last week, recording a rare tackle against the Calgary Stampeders.
“A defensive tackle? Oh, yeah. I did,” Stamps recalled after Tuesday’s practice at Commonwealth Stadium. “Off an interception.”
You’ll have to forgive him for forgetting at first. After all, he tasks his six-foot, 188-pound body with coming up with catches rather than taking down ball-carriers.
That’s not to say Stamps can’t take a hit. He’s given more to the game than most players would be willing.
But that’s different from actively seeking out contact.
Not that there was much physicality involved in touching an already-down Stampeders defensive back Fred Bennett.
“I just didn’t want him to make a play off an interception return,” Stamps said. “He caught the ball and he fell, so I wouldn’t look at it as a real tackle. I just tapped him to make sure he was down.
“I haven’t tackled anybody in a long time. If I have to, I will, but I’m not looking forward to it.”
Offensively, Stamps finished second overall in receiving this year, just 18 yards behind league leader Chad Owens of the Toronto Argonauts — his opponents in this Sunday’s East Division semifinal.
And it was a strong month by Stamps that helped get them there, which is more of a reward than the monthly award is.
“It’s good, but I’m just happy we’re in the playoffs,” Stamps said. “We just got a little better chemistry with our quarterbacks. Kerry (Joseph) and Matt (Nicholls), they just gave me opportunities.”
Chances are both quarterbacks will see playing time on Sunday, though no starter has been named yet.
“I play football, I don’t have to make those tough decisions,” Stamps said. “I’ll just leave it up to the coaches.”
Who, in turn, are leaving it up in the air for now.
“Haven’t decided yet,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed, pointing out Joseph took 60% of reps with the first-team offence, while Nichols had 40%. “We’re going to try to get it for the rest of the week at about 50-50.
“We fully expect to be able to use both of them, regardless of who starts. Who gets the TSN interview the day before is just the name, we’re planning to use both quarterbacks.”
Who will both be expected to use all of the weapons at their disposal, especially Stamps — unlike earlier in the season where he went virtually unnoticed.
“He’s been an absolute pro in terms of handling the slow start and not getting the ball as often as expected,” Reed said. “He knew that sooner or later the ball was going to come his way and that he as a playmaker had to capitalize on it.
“In the last 6-7 week, we’ve seen Fred be Fred Stamps.”
IN AND OUT: No sign of DB Pete Ittersagen, who filled in for CB Rod Williams (head) last week, or WR Josh Chichester at practice Tuesday.