The return of receiver Marquay McDaniel after a six-game absence due to a broken hand provided players and coaches with a positive talking point after practice on Tuesday.
"I'm very pleased about that situation," said Calgary coach and general manager John Hufnagel. "I know he's excited about playing. He's a big part of our offence when he's on the field. He's probably our most complete receiver."
After a disheartening 18-13 loss at home to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday, the Stamps (14-3) are looking forward to welcoming McDaniel back to the lineup for their road game against the B.C. Lions (9-8) in Vancouver on Friday night.
"I know I'm excited to watch him play," said Stamps veteran linebacker Keon Raymond. "He's by far one of the best receivers in this league. For us to have a weapon like that going into this game and potentially for our West Final as well … I'm excited."
Not only did the Stamps lose the game to the Bombers, they also lost running back Jon Cornish and receiver Maurice Price to concussions as well as rookie receiver/kick returner Sederrik Cunningham to a sprained ankle.
That makes the return of McDaniel off the six-game injured list even more important for the Stamps, who want to head into the post-season on a positive note.
"We want to be playing our best going into the playoffs," said McDaniel, who's eagerly anticipating his return to BC Place where he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the final game of the regular season one year earlier. "I actually feel blessed. My season could be over. You see guys with lower-body injuries. It's not my knee. It's not my foot. I think that would have hurt a little bit more, especially playing receiver trying to come back from it."
The 30-year-old veteran of six CFL seasons, four of them with the Stamps, is hoping to make the most of his opportunity to get into game action leading up to Calgary hosting the CFL's West final at McMahon Stadium on Nov. 23.
"Last year, I missed the playoff game, so at least I get to come back before the playoffs," said McDaniel, who still leads the Stamps with 42 catches for 627 yards despite missing the past six games. "I'm just looking forward to Friday. That's my main focus."
McDaniel and his fellow receivers will catch passes from both of Calgary's quarterbacks, Drew Tate and Bo Levi Mitchell, on Friday against the Lions.
"Both Drew and Bo will play in the game," Hufnagel said. "We're planning on starting Drew — get him a game where he has to prepare as the starter."
After carrying the ball 11 times for 109 yards against Winnipeg, running back Matt Walter can expect to get just as much or more action against the Lions with Cornish out of the lineup.
"Coming off a loss, it doesn't feel that great," said Walter of his first career 100-yard rushing game. "You always want to get the win and that didn't happen. It was nice that I was able to add some value where I could, but we still couldn't finish and we have to get better at that."
Against the Lions, Walter will be looking to add to his totals of 77 carries for 453 yards and two touchdowns this season — all career highs.
"We're obviously going out for the win," he said. "Whatever way they can use me, that's all I can ask for."
Veteran receiver Nik Lewis, who had two catches for 26 yards against the Bombers, said the Stamps want to rebound with a much better performance against the Lions in their final game of the regular season.
"We played pretty bad offensively — fumbling the ball, not protecting it, not making plays when we needed to," said Lewis, while adding that the Stamps can't use the snowy conditions on Saturday as an excuse. "Any time you go out and get 250 yards rushing and don't score more points, it's not very good. We feel like we did a good job blocking, but we've just got to be better.
"You never know what the West final is going to hold. If it holds a game like that, we have to be better in that type of game."
According to Raymond, the Stamps also have to bounce back with a much better defensive effort on Friday.
"I can pretty much speak for the whole defensive unit, we want to get better," Raymond said. "We want to make sure we play better as a defensive unit — get better at the things that we do best and show that on game day. That's our main focus right now so make we sure that we get better as a unit and be the best defence playing going into the playoffs."Suggest a correction