EDMONTON - Walk into the Edmonton Eskimos dressing room, and odds are the first voice one will hear is that of receiver Adarius Bowman.
The six-foot-three, 223-pound slotback, who missed the first nine games with a knee injury, has been an infectious jolt of energy in the room and on the field since he returned to the Eskimo roster three games ago.
Two of those games were wins, making the 28-year-old out of Oklahoma State the only Eskimo starter with a winning record this year.
As the 3-9 Eskimos put their modest two-game win streak on the line Saturday evening against the 8-4 Toronto Argonauts _ who are on a three-game winning run, all on the road — Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly says Bowman's return has been huge.
"Not just physically in what challenges he presents to defences on the field, which is his size and speed and ability," Reilly said Friday, "but his mental side of the game, the energy that he brings.
"You can probably hear him right now in the room; the guy brings a ton of energy. He brings that into the huddle and it's not fake, it's genuine. When you get to know Adarius you know it's not just for show, it's not just for people to hear him, it's truly how he feels about the game and that passion kind of bleeds over to everybody else.
"So what he brings to our offence I don't think you can really measure it."
In the three games since his return Bowman has caught 16 passes, including two clutch second-down receptions, for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
Fred Stamps, the leading receiver in the CFL this season, smiles when asks what Bowman's return has meant.
"Oh man, Adarius coming back was a big addition to our offence," he said. "He can do so many things and once he has the ball in his hands, he's awesome running with the ball. He's a high energy guy, makes our offence so much better. All our receivers are doing well, but since AD came back it just gives our offence that little bit more energy that we need."
For his part Bowman, who has 65 yards after his catches, downplays his impact but admits that while sitting out was frustrating, it also gave him a chance to get a new look at the game.
"I wouldn't say the fact of me sitting out was an advantage, but I learned some advantages from a lot of visual work on the field, got to do a lot of seeing rather than physical work so my mental aspect of the game got a lot better," he said after Friday's walk-through. "So I feel there's a small advantage there."
Plus, he's fresh, his body is healthy and the knee is not presenting any issues.
"No worries about anything," he said. "The biggest thing is waiting on the next game."
That game is the rematch with the Argos, who beat Edmonton 36-33 in Toronto in a mid-August game that had nearly 1,300 yards total offence. The Argos can wrap up a playoff berth with a win while the Eskimos could pull into a tie with Montreal for a potential cross-over playoff spot.
Bowman didn't play in that game and Edmonton coach Kavis Reed is hoping he can swing the outcome with his injection of energy, enthusiasm and confidence.
"The way he presents himself on and off the field is absolutely one of confidence, one that says we're going to overcome," said Reed. "So he's very important from a physical perspective, but the intangible perspective is immeasurable. When he came back to practice you could see the difference in the team knowing that Adarius, a big play maker, would soon be available to us."