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.”
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.”