Much has been made all season about the Calgary Stampeders’ ability to rebound from adversity. Week after week they’ve had to plug in players to fill holes created by injuries.
Week after week they showed little effects of the constant roster shuffling.
That is until last week.
The Stamps are coming off a rare home loss to Toronto. No doubt a contributing factor was playing two receivers with a combined one game of CFL experience.
All of the blame for the loss should not be heaped on the shoulders of newcomers Kenny Stafford and Alric Arnett. However, there were issues involving their inexperience.
The Stamps were flagged for illegal formations as the pair didn’t align themselves properly. There were also times when the Stampeders didn’t have the right number of offensive players on the field. Some of those slip ups can be attributed to a lack of experience, no doubt.
That is what makes this week’s game against the Tiger-Cats so important. The Stamps will enter the game with largely the same lineup that played against Toronto.
Reinforcements are not forthcoming in the immediate future so this lineup will be the one that carries the team into the final third of the season.
Speedster Maurice Price is doubtful for this game with a hip pointer. His return date is not clear. Canadians John Forzani and Chris Bauman have yet to hit the field this year.
Forzani hit the field for a workout recently but suffered a setback while recovering from foot surgery.
Bauman suffered a wrist injury in training camp, halting a productive start to the season. His wrist according to the team is “not healing well”.
But while the receiving corps battles injuries, the door also opens for other players to take their turn.
Big Jabari Arthur has begun to blossom. The former 1st-round pick has himself battled the injury bug for his entire career. This year, he has assumed many of the offensive duties performed by the injured Nik Lewis.
Arthur is coming off his best game against the Argos when he snared seven passes and scored his first touchdown of the year. The seven-catch performance gave him 30 receptions for the year, a single-season career high.
The shake up in the receiving core has also allowed converted quarterback Brad Sinopoli to show his abilities. In the last four Stamps games, he has become a possession receiver with 14 catches for 172 yards.
He also had a potential game-winning touchdown against Toronto taken off the board as a result of a penalty. However his 67-yard scamper to the end zone showed his athletic ability.
The Stampeders are not the only team to be forced into constant lineup juggling. They can expect little sympathy from teams like Toronto, Saskatchewan and BC who have also lost prominent players.
Yet, all season long the Stampeders have found a way to adapt to their circumstance.
Now, down the stretch, will be the biggest challenge of all. Fielding a shifting lineup and staying competitive will make for a interesting final third of the regular sason.
Mark Stephen is Sports Director of CHQR Radio in Calgary and has broadcast Calgary Stampeder games since 1996. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkonFootball.