CALGARY - It’s Halloween weekend, but Spiderman is staying home.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats star Arland Bruce III is sidelined with a sore hamstring, meaning the Calgary Stampeders won’t have to worry about shadowing the CFL’s leading receiver during Friday’s tussle at McMahon Stadium.
“We left Arland behind,” confirmed Tiger-Cats head coach Marcel Bellefeuille. “We feel like there’s some more significant games down the road and with him behind such an impact player for us, we felt like it was in our best interests not to press things this week.”
The Tiger-Cats (9-7) are still scrapping for second position in the East Division but have already clinched a playoff spot, while the Stamps (11-5) are locked into top spot in the West but are treating this like a must-win game as they try to re-establish their swagger at McMahon Stadium in their final home outing before hosting a league semifinal.
Keeping the ball out of Bruce’s mitts would have been a big part of the gameplan.
For the past few weeks, Stamps cornerback Brandon Browner has been going toe-to-toe with the most dangerous receiver on the other side of the ball.
First, it was Montreal Alouettes monster Jamel Richardson. Then Saskatchewan Roughriders star Andy Fantuz. Then B.C. Lions greybeard Geroy Simon.
Earlier this week, Browner arrived for a team meeting and suggested he should keep his eye on Bruce. That won’t be necessary now.
That’s not to say the Tiger-Cats are completely clawless without their all-star slotback.
One of the big stories this week has been the fact the Stamps will have three receivers — Nik Lewis, Ken-Yon Rambo and Romby Bryant — reach the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time in a decade.
They’re not alone. In fact, Bruce (1,303), Dave Stala (955) and Marquay McDaniel (918) give the Ticats a trio of receivers that’ll likely finish in quadruple digits.
“I think we have a good receiving core,” said Tiger-Cats quarterback Kevin Glenn. “Take nothing away from Arland. He's the leading receiver in the league. He’s a great guy and a great receiver and he will be missed. But I think we have a receiving core that knows that they can get it done, too, if he’s not on the field.”
Bruce was injured in the first half of last week's 40-3 thrashing of the Montreal Alouettes, and the offence didn't exactly sputter in his absence.
With that in mind, Bellefeuille figured he could afford to leave his big gun back home. The Ticats head coach confirmed Bruce would be in the lineup if this was a post-season matchup.
“We get to play next week regardless of what happens Friday,” he said. “The important thing is to have him ready for the playoffs.”
Maybe Browner will get to see him then.