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Stampeders get Charleston Hughes back for game with Roughriders

Stampeders get Charleston Hughes back for game with Roughriders

For the first time in a long time, Dave Dickenson smiled when he was asked about who the Calgary Stampeders might have available for their next game.

After weeks of watching player after player get yanked off the active roster due to injuries, the Stampeders coach actually got some good news this week.

Charleston Hughes, the CFL’s reigning sack king, looks likely to return against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday at McMahon Stadium (7 p.m., TSN/News Talk 770) after missing two games with a leg injury.

Offensive lineman Shane Bergman should be back in the lineup, too, after missing a couple games due to a concussion.

Rookie Tunde Adeleke should be back, as well, after sitting out last weekend’s loss to the host Montreal Alouettes.

“The good thing is I can make some decisions with some healthy bodies,” Dickenson said after Thursday morning’s practice. “Whereas in the past, it was like ‘you’re healthy, you’re playing.’

“We’ve got a few guys who look like they’re ready to go.”

To be clear, the Stampeders are still a banged-up bunch. The team’s six-game injured list is still 14 players deep and features big names such as Cordarro Law, Deron Mayo, Junior Turner and Brandon Smith.

There could be more good news next week, though, as players like Mayo and Smith who began the season on the six-game list will be eligible to return to practice.

For now, though, getting guys like Hughes and Bergman back should provide a measure of relief.

“Offensive line, we’re going to clean that up a little bit and make sure we get the right guys out there,” Dickenson said. “Looks like Charleston will be back, which is good.

“We’ve got to take ownership — we’re gonna go up against a great group. It’s always great to get your leaders out there and some of your vets who have produced over the years.”

GROUP EFFORT

The Stampeders know that if they’re going to stop the Roughriders from moving the ball upfield, they’re going to need to limit the damage from running back Cameron Marshall.

That’s easier said than done, with Marshall running for 70-plus yards in two of the Riders’ three games this season and getting increased looks in their Week 3 win against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Considering how the Stamps defence struggled to stop the Alouettes’ Tyrell Sutton late in last-weekend’s game, limiting Marshall will need to be a focus this weekend.

“He’s a good back,” said Stamps defensive coordinator DeVone Claybrooks. “He catches the ball, runs hard and rarely goes down on first contact, so we’ve got to make sure we’re running to the ball. He’s got a pretty good overall game, I would say.”

While Sutton was able to cause the Stamps trouble last week, it’s worth noting that the Calgary crew has been pretty strong against the run so far this season, and they limited the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to only 48 yards on the ground in Week 3.

“We’ve played (against Marshall) in the past — there’s some good running backs,” Dickenson said. “I’m not going to say he’s better than the guy we just played, though. Just stay as a group, (go out and) gang tackle and hopefully make some plays on him.”

Tough to hand Stampeders a second-straight loss

Tough to hand Stampeders a second-straight loss

There might not be a worse time to play the Calgary Stampeders than when they’re coming off a loss.

While the Stamps have won more regular-season games than any other team in the CFL over the last half-decade, they’ve seemed downright unbeatable in games where they were defeated the previous week.

In fact, the Stampeders haven’t lost back-to-back games since they were defeated by the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes in consecutive games in Week 2 and Week 3 of the 2012 season.

That’s a stretch of 91 games — the longest a CFL team has ever gone without losing consecutive regular-season matches. The second-longest streak, for what it’s worth, is owned by the Toronto Argonauts, who went 54 games without dropping back-to-back matches between the start of the 1936 season and the end of ’46 – there was no play from ’42-44 due to the Second World War.

So what’s the secret?

The Stamps don’t make it sound all that complicated.

“I didn’t even pay attention — we’ve got to live in a real-tight one-game window,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “If you focus on that one game — I know it’s cliché — but make sure you get it done. Give me your best, give me your best and take care of that one game. Usually, that’s the most success you’ll have.”

It’s entirely possible that the Stampeders’ unprecedented run of never dropping back-to-back games is simply a result of how good the team has been over the past couple years.

At the same time, though, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell said the team reacts in a very specific way to their losses.

“I think it’s more the culture of the team,” Mitchell said. “Losing always refocuses and humbles a team. A lot of the time when we lose, it’s not a lack of talent or effort. It’s attention to details or being overconfident in some things.

“(Losing) humbles the guys. We lock back in. We pay attention to details, and that’s why there’s never two in a row. That’s been the way it’s been so far, and hopefully, we keep it going.”

That could be bad news for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who visit McMahon Stadium on Saturday (7 p.m., TSN) only eight days after the Stampeders lost their first game of the season, dropping a 30-23 decision to the host Montreal Alouettes in Week 4.

When the Stamps picked up their first loss last year in Week 1 against the B.C. Lions, they stormed out of the dressing room a week later and smashed the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 36-22.

“It’s the culture — we might be a little ornery,” said Stamps defensive back Josh Bell. “We take a loss — we take it personally. We do a good job of correcting our mistakes from the week before, really. We make mistakes, we lose games, and we come back and correct those mistakes and win again.”

Ask around the Stampeders dressing room, and they all gave similar answers.

After the loss to the Als in Montreal, Mitchell and defensive star Micah Johnson both explained that the Stampeders wouldn’t be hanging their heads just because they dropped a game.

Instead, they insisted that it was simply time to get back in the film-room and begin fixing some mistakes that may have been papered-over during their undefeated three-game start to the season.

Against the Alouettes, there were a couple costly errors that the Stampeders believe they can avoid if they just keep things a little more simple.

“I think a lot of guys here hate losing,” said Stamps receiver Marquay McDaniel. “When you lose, you want to get back on that field as soon as possible. I think that’s the thing around here — we always reload.

“It’s a good thing we’re back at home — we’ve got a West (Division) matchup this week. We’re ready to go. I know me, personally, I haven’t been playing as good as I want to. I felt like I left some plays out there last week, so me personally, I’m ready to get back out there.”

Stamps notes: Glenn a mentor to Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell

Stamps notes: Glenn a mentor to Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell

The Calgary Stampeders might be having a little fun with their rivalry with former teammates now with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

But Bo Levi Mitchell got dead serious when he was asked about what he learned from backing up quarterback Kevin Glenn.

Glenn, now serving as starting QB for the Riders, was with the Stampeders in 2012 and ’13, right as Mitchell was finding his feet in the Canadian game.

“Early on, Kev was a huge part of my career as far as a learning tool for me to pick his brain and use my eyes to watch him and watch how he played the game,” Mitchell said Friday. “At that point in time, I was still locked in to the American game, so (I was trying) to understand this is a guy’s who’s done it for a long time and done it well, so how has he been successful?”

The respect between the QBs is mutual, and Glenn — who is 116 yards short of 50,000 passing yards in his career — said he remembered being impressed when he first saw Mitchell enter the league.

And if his younger teammate wanted help, Glenn was happy to provide it however he could.

“That was one thing — when me and Bo were here when I first saw him, he kind of reminded me a lot of myself at the time,” Glenn said. “He was so inquisitive. He was very coachable. When you told him something, he took it from the classroom onto the field, and I was very similar, and I think that’s why I was able to have the career I did, because I listened.”

While Glenn is definitely closer to the end of his career than the beginning at this point, he’s started strongly for the Riders after a couple seasons spent bouncing around the league.

Through three games, he’s already thrown for more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns, and the Stampeders are taking the threat that he presents seriously.

“When he was here, he was a good pro,” Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson said about Glenn. “We won a lot of games with Kevin, and I was very confident whenever he played that we’d win. I kind of think he’s been (underestimated) his whole career — not a lot of respect. But I think he’s obviously just been winning everywhere he goes — putting up numbers.”

COTE CONCUSSION

Rob Cote was moved to the one-game injured list Monday, and while rumours had been circulating that he was dealing with a bug of some sort, it turns out that he is currently undergoing the CFL’s concussion protocol.

“We’ll hopefully get him back next week,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson.

Also removed from the lineup was Canadian receiver Juwan Brescacin, and it appears that he’ll be out for a while.

Brescacin was placed on the six-game injured list with an undisclosed injury after Dickenson acknowledged that the 24-year-old might be out for a while when he missed practice earlier in the week.

Stepping in for Brescacin will be veteran receiver Rory Kohlert.

“When (Kohlert) played against (the) Winnipeg (Blue Bombers), I thought he did some things on special teams, as well,” Dickenson said. “He’s a good, consistent veteran that we have confidence in. When we signed him, we figured he’d be a nice complementary role, so he’ll get his chance this week.”

ON PRACTICE ROSTER

After being placed on the one-game injured list prior to last weekend’s loss to the host Montreal Alouettes, Randy Colling was moved to the Stampeders practice roster on Friday.

Colling, the Stamps first-round selection in the 2017 draft, still hasn’t appeared in a game this season, although he was included on the reserve list for Game 3 against the Blue Bombers.

The 27-year-old missed the beginning of training camp due to an injury and was shifted from defensive line to offensive line earlier in the season.

Flames fans shouldn’t fret about Johnny Gaudreau’s remark that it would be ‘sweet’ to skate for Flyers

Flames fans shouldn’t fret about Johnny Gaudreau’s remark that it would be ‘sweet’ to skate for Flyers

Calgary Flames star Johnny Gaudreau probably should have selected his words more carefully.

But there was a lot more to Gaudreau’s interview Friday with a Philadelphia sports radio show than what you likely read on the headlines — his comment that “it would be sweet” to someday skate for the Flyers, not far across the Delaware River from his hometown of Carneys Point, N.J.

It’s no secret that Gaudreau was raised a Flyers fan, but the Lady Byng Trophy-winning left-winger isn’t going to be leaving Cowtown anytime soon.

He’s signed for five more seasons with the Flames, tied for tops on the team salary charts at US$6.75 million per campaign.

And both before and after his response to a question Friday about eventually taking his talents back home, the 23-year-old puck-whiz raved about the fan support in Calgary.

The sound-byte that everybody is talking about comes when one of the radio hosts tells Gaudreau, “We would like you to play here at some point, Johnny. When are you a free agent?”

A few moments later, after both Gaudreau and the other radio voices respond that he’s inked to a long-term contract, he asks, “Wouldn’t you love someday to come home?”

“Yeah, it would be sweet,” Gaudreau replied. “I’ve got a ton of family here and all my friends … Actually, I have a wedding here this weekend in South Jersey and all my friends come back here. All my good friends and kids who I’ve played with all my life are from South Jersey.

“So it would be sweet to play here someday. You know, you never know in sports, but a lot of support back here in South Jersey and the Philly area. They follow me pretty well.”

Gaudreau has quite a following in Calgary, too, where he was the Flames’ leading point-producer in each of the past two seasons and where his No. 13 jersey is now the most common fashion choice for the Saddledome faithful.

 

Friday’s clip likely caused some nail-biting in Marda Loop and McKenzie Towne, Silver Springs and Saddle Ridge, but you’ll be less nervous if you listen to the entire interview.

“It’s a little different — every morning, you wake up, you look out your window and you see the mountains. Looking out in New Jersey, you don’t see the mountains,” Gaudreau said on the same radio appearance. “It was a cool transition. I go to Starbucks every morning and before I leave the Starbucks, I’m ending up taking three, four, five pictures and have little kids running up to me. It’s really cool. They’re really passionate about their hockey over there and it makes it a lot of fun playing over there, too.”

Immediately after his comment that it would be “sweet” to star in the City of Brotherly Love, Gaudreau again praised Calgary’s puck-crazed supporters.

“It’s been awesome. They’re so passionate about their hockey over there, and it makes it fun to come into the rink every day and practise,” Gaudreau said. “You’re in the middle of practice on a Tuesday and there is 50, 60, 70 people in the stands … It’s crazy, just the way they love their hockey.

“I think two seasons ago, we were third-to-last or fourth-to-last and still sold out every night, cheering us on. That’s the type of fans they are. They’re great to us, and I’m really fortunate.”

VALIMAKI SIGNS DEAL

Flames general manager Brad Treliving crossed another item off his summer to-do list Friday, finalizing a three-year entry-level contract for defenceman Juuso Valimaki. The 18-year-old Valimaki was the Calgary club’s first-round selection — No. 16 overall — in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Valimaki, a native of Nokia, Finland, spent the last two seasons on the blue-line for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League. Last season, he netted 19 goals to go along with 42 assists for 61 points and 34 penalty minutes in 60 regular-season games which placed him seventh among WHL defencemen in points scored.