Dave Campbell | CFL.ca Columnist
August 5, 2011.
It’s not a night that All-Star receiver Fred Stamps would like to remember.
In a game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Canad Inns Stadium, Stamps was inadvertently kicked in a rather sensitive area on the very first play from scrimmage by Bombers defensive back Jonathan Hefney.
As inadvertent as it may have been, the damage was extremely significant as Stamps would need surgery to remove a testicle following the game.
Though he was enduring a severe amount of pain, Stamps bravely finished the game. In fact, he registered three receptions for 41 yards.
He would eventually go on to miss three games, only to return for the Labour Day rematch vs. the Stampeders, where he hauled in two catches from his old quarterback Ricky Ray.
The following week, he was remarkable. Seemingly not missing a beat, Stamps registered 130 yards on 14 receptions.
However, Stamps was still experiencing pain and discomfort, and would continue to feel so for the remainder of the season.
It took two off-season surgeries to repair the rest of the damage, the last of which occurred on May 24. It was only this past Wednesday at training camp when Stamps confessed that he was no longer in pain.
“I feel like my legs are coming back, getting my cuts and getting used to all the passes from the quarterbacks. It was a fun day,” he said.
Because it was only his first day back with his teammates, Head Coach Kavis Reed was reluctant to allow Stamps to practice.
Let’s face it, Stamps is Edmonton’s main offensive threat this season, so it’s fair to assume he’s being guarded with caution.
He will need to work hard to get his conditioning back up to speed. The best way to do so? Practice.
However, Reed is not at all concerned about him falling behind.
“Fred is a pro and Fred is doing the things he needs to do,” Reed said.
“Last year when he was out for the six weeks, he was able to quickly re-acclimate himself and get back into the game and play for the rest of the season. With this being the pre-season, and because he’s probably not 100 per cent right now, it’s no secret he won’t be playing in the first pre-season game.”
Even though he missed three games in 2011, Stamps ended up tying Adarius Bowman for the team lead in receiving yards with 1,153. He only had two 100-yard receiving games after coming back from his first surgery. He had four prior to the injury.
Because of the off-season surgeries, Stamps didn’t get a chance to participate in any off-season training sessions, which is why the Eskimos are taking the cautious approach.
He hasn’t completed a full practice session yet either, though he’s been working hard with trainers on the sidelines which is incentive enough to get back on the football field.
The target date for Stamps to return to the game action is Edmonton’s final pre-season game at home against the B.C. Lions. The coaching staff hasn’t planned that far ahead yet but Stamps is eager for some live action.
“I would love to play in the second game. Training camp is one thing but getting in the game in another. Getting that rust out and getting that chemistry down so that would be a good thing.”
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Stamps will lead an improved receiving corps into the 2012 season. Bowman is back, and he will be joined by free agent signings Cary Koch and Greg Carr. Meanwhile, sophomore Nate Coehoorn looks poised to take over the non-import receiver spot vacated by the release of veteran Andrew Nowacki.
Second-year pro Marcus Henry, along with rookie Derrick Townsel have also given the Eskimos some solid depth.
Let’s not forget about first round draft pick Shamawd Chambers.
Of course, the recurring theme so far this season is how the Eskimos will perform at quarterback?
Steven Jyles is the projected starter and hasn’t done anything to make the club believe otherwise. Matt Nichols and Kerry Joseph are having a big battle for the backup spot.
Stamps firmly believes that Jyles, or any other of the quarterbacks for that matter, don’t need to be Ricky Ray.
The quarterbacks won’t be relied upon to win games on their own. They simply don’t have that characteristics...at least at the moment anyways.
Stamps is very good friends with Jyles and played with him in Edmonton back in 2007. He sees a fire within Jyles and a willingness to take on a leadership role.
The Eskimos have perhaps the biggest question mark surrounding their offense of any team in the CFL. A healthy Stamps certainly gives the Green and Gold a punchers chance.