Tiger-Cat back for more

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Three weeks off work sounds like a vacation to most people.

To Jesse Lumsden, being held out of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats lineup the past three games was nothing of the sort.

It was more like being in prison, with the sidelines his bars.

So now that he's cleared to come back from his collarbone injury to face the Calgary Stampeders tonight (5:30 p.m., TSN), there's a weight lifted off his shoulders -- figuratively and literally.

"There's nothing like it outside of football," said the Canadian running back.

"There's an energy you feel. Three steps away from the field but not being able to get out there hurts and makes me feel sick to my stomach.

"I wouldn't call it a vacation because I did everything in my power to get better, used up all of my time."

Without Lumsden, the Hamilton offence was listless at best, even when high-profile quarterback Casey Printers was brought in and started last week against Winnipeg.

The Ticats lost the past three games by a combined score of 101-40, and the offence didn't have any touchdowns before the fourth quarters of those outings.

Lumsden had a nice view for all of them.

"I hate sitting on the sidelines not being able to take part in the fun," Lumsden said. "This is what we practice for and go through training camp for ... games. Not being able to help sucks."

Neither Anthony Davis nor Terry Caulley have what Lumsden brings to the table, so neither replacement could run the plays designed for the 6-ft.-2, 228-lb. power back.

Despite sitting out, Lumsden is still the CFL's fifth-leading rusher and has an outstanding 8.5-yard average. He's even more effective on dumpoff or swing passes, because as soon as gets through the defensive front, he has the speed to make cuts or simply run over defensive backs.

So Calgary's defensive front seven are taking this as a personal challenge to stop Lumsden.

"Jesse is a guy you can't let get going," said Stamps middle linebacker Brian Clark. "He's a big guy with a long stride.

"Once he gets past the front seven, he starts licking his chops. You see the DBs get hesitant. They don't want to get in his way.

"They see him coming and say, 'Oh boy.' They might hit him once or twice, but then the third time, guys don't want to hit him anymore. That's when he makes those big plays."

This is the first time Printers and Lumsden will play together, and it will be interesting to see how the power back compliments the scrambling QB.

The two have spent plenty of time together over the past couple of weeks making sure Lumsden knows when he should roll out as a receiver or jump in front of Printers to block.

"We've been talking a lot, getting to know each other," Lumsden said. "We need to have a good relationship off the field, so it helps developing it off the field.

"I need to know where he's going and what he's thinking."

The simple presence of Lumsden makes the Ticats offence different and would seem to give the receivers a boost.

Even without leading receiver Brock Ralph, rookie Ticats pass-catcher Chris Bauman expects an easier time now that Lumsden is back.

"The last time he played he had 210 yards or so, so that speaks for itself," Bauman said. "That's Jesse. You can't do much against him. I certainly don't mind blocking for him.

"The linebackers have to account for him. They can't just jump out there and cover the pass."


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