CFL thriving despite injuries

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

Thrilling finishes, exciting moments and broken bones.

The CFL seems to have it all this season.

But with the high percentage of entertaining games has come an alarming number of serious injuries.

This past week was particularly devastating as Eskimos receiver Jason Tucker knocked helmets with Hamilton's Jykine Bradley and broke two vertebrae in his neck. It will take a miraculous recovery for Tucker to return even next season.

Two days later, the Roughriders lost Canadian receiver Andy Fantuz to a broken leg. It's the second time this has happened to the Riders, who lost D.J. Flick for the season in Week 2.

It would be easy to field an all-star team with players on the injured list.

So far, the injuries haven't hurt the product on the field, especially to the undefeated Roughriders, who have used three quarterbacks for their five victories.

The Riders will limp into McMahon Stadium this week to face the Stamps with QB Darian Durant (broken ribs) also hurting. This isn't even mentioning their injured list before last week that included QB Marcus Crandell, DL John Chick and WR Weston Dressler.

"An injury on this team is just a little time off and it lets somebody else step up," Riders running back Wes Cates told the Regina Leader-Post. "If that ain't a true testament to teamwork, to believing in each other and finding ways to get the job done, I don't know what is."

Through four weeks, TSN's ratings were up 11% and they should go up more with the exciting action this weekend all four games were decided in the final minutes.

Opening drive

There were some nice moments at Canad Inns Stadium, even before the Blue Bombers won their first game Thursday. During pre-game announcements, the 26,882 fans gave OL Obby Khan an great ovation as he was introduced. Khan missed the majority of last year after having his large intestine removed due to complications from colitis. Then, in the second quarter, fullback Graeme Bell scored his first TD since returning from a baseball-bat beating that kept him out of action in 2007 ... TSN provided some good entertainment this past week on Off the Record. Tiger-Cats RB Jesse Lumsden exploded at the suggestion he is injury prone, and Argonauts QBs Kerry Joseph and Michael Bishop pretended they hated each other. We have to agree with Lumsden. He's a tough guy who plays hard and therefore takes a lot of bumps and bruises ... The Ticats may be forced to take a page from Doug Berry's playbook this week and start their backup quarterback. The move worked for the Bombers, as Ryan Dinwiddie picked apart the Stamps for 450 yards in his first regular-season start. Putting Casey Printers (thumb) on the bench in favour of backup Richie Williams may be the best thing for Hamilton coach Charlie Taaffe.

Endzone toss

As terrible as the Tiger-Cats' passing game is this year (still no TD passes for Casey Printers), Hamilton seems to have found a keeper in WR Prechae Rodriguez. In two games, the former Auburn basketball player has 12 catches for 212 yards and has shown great ability to pull down a jump-ball ... Riders K Luca Congi went 2-for-2 Sunday to run his perfect streak to lucky 13. Last season, Congi was jerked around in all-star voting, at first getting the West Division nod before the CFL corrected the numbers and gave it to Stamps K Sandro DeAngelis. Congi seems motivated to take DeAngelis' crown this year ... The Stampeders secondary has given up the top two passing performances this season after surrendering 450 yards to Winnipeg's Ryan Dinwiddie and 448 to Edmonton's Ricky Ray in Week 2. Calgary has brought in DB Keon Raymond to see if he can provide a spark, while Julian Battle is back practising. Battle could be activated from the nine-game injured list to replace Calvin Bannister at halfback.

EXTRA POINTS

Even with QB Henry Burris throwing for more than 300 yards in four straight outings (and 15 of his last 17), the Stamps have yet to score on an opening drive this season. The Stamps have been outscored 23-2 in the first quarter the past three weeks ... The Roughriders are now 2-0 in home games interrupted by storms. If only they could schedule bad weather ... Montreal's losing streak in Vancouver has reached eight games, and that doesn't include the 2005 Grey Cup loss to Edmonton in B.C. Place Stadium.


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