A hip pointer that also affected his back and spine forced Madu to miss last weekend's 25-23 home win over Edmonton. But with incumbent C.J. Gable (shoulder) going on the six-game injured list this week, Madu gives the Ticats an experienced tailback for Saturday's game in Winnipeg.
"Man, I hate sitting out, I hate being injured," Madu said Thursday. "I'd never missed a game in my life before and to miss that one game it hurt me.
"I wanted to go out and help my teammates."
The Ticats were in a real bind against Edmonton when Gable was hurt on their first play from scrimmage. With no other running back on the roster, sophomore fullback C.O. Prime, a converted linebacker, was pressed into action, forcing Madu, 26, a native of Bedford, Texas, to assume an impromptu role as running backs coach.
"He knows the offence because he's in meetings with us but I wanted to give him a little pep talk and provide some pointers," Madu said. "I just told him to go out and relax and play the game.
"When it comes down to it, it's just a child's game that we played as kids."
The six-foot-one, 255-pound Prime had five carries for 17 yards, added a one-yard reception and provided solid pass protection. Not bad considering the 25-year-old Montreal native last carried the football eight years ago while in high school.
"He went and did his thing," Madu said. "After the game I was so happy for him.
"He was all smiles. He got a few carries, he loved it."
Now it's Madu who's all smiles about being on the field as Hamilton (4-7) looks for its fourth win in five games. The Ticats enter weekend action tied atop the East Division with Toronto and Montreal (both 4-8).
The six-foot, 197-pound Madu 187 yards rushing on 44 carries this season with 25 catches for 293 yards. The former Oklahoma Sooner signed as an undrafted free agent with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in '11 and played nine games that season, registering 55 yards rushing on 15 carries and 10 receptions for 72 yards before being released in August 2012.
He joined the New York Jets on Aug. 4, 2013 but was let go 27 days later. Madu signed as a free agent with Hamilton on Feb. 27.
Saturday's game is also important to Winnipeg (6-6), which is coming off a bye week with ground to make up in the West Division. Calgary (10-2) leads the standings followed by Saskatchewan (9-3), Edmonton (8-4) and B.C. (7-5).
Given the struggles of East Division teams, the crossover option looks very viable this year. If the fourth-place Western squad compiles a better record than the third-place Eastern club, it will become the East's third playoff seed.
Despite its record Hamilton controls its playoff destiny, especially with five of its seven remaining games being against East rivals. That includes two against both Toronto and Ottawa and a regular-season finale at home against Montreal.
"We've talked about it . . . it's our future," Madu said. "We want to win the East Division and we've got to do it."
Finishing first or second would secure Hamilton a playoff game at Tim Hortons Field, where the club is 3-0 since moving into the facility on the Labour Day weekend. The Ticats opened the season playing at Ron Joyce Stadium, compiling a 1-2 record there.
Work continues at Tim Hortons Field but its seating capacity of 18,000 is nearly triple that of Ron Joyce Stadium. And Ticats fans have been much more vocal in their support of the home team at the new stadium.
"It's a great atmosphere to be in," Madu said. "Every game has been packed compared to McMaster.
"It got so quiet (at Mac) that sometimes you could hear a pin drop. That's the one thing about the atmosphere, it's going to motivate you to play . . . you know it's going to get loud out there."
Unfortunately, Saturday's game is at Investors Group Field and Hamilton is a dismal 0-5 on the road. However, Winnipeg starter Drew Willy (shoulder) will be a game-time decision and the Bombers' defence is allowing a CFL-high 128.2 yards rushing per game.
"We always want to get a good run game going because it's going to open up things for the passing game and will help the quarterback out," Madu said. "We have a good run gameplan this week so I hope we put it to work."
There are no such questions regarding Hamilton's offensive leader. The Ticats are 3-1 since starter Zach Collaros's return after missing five games with concussion-like symptoms.
"It means a lot," Madu said. "I love Zach, he's a real cool guy, man.
"He's a good leader, he takes charge of the huddle and he's a guy who plays with confidence. He goes out there and just slings the ball and throws his body around. You want to play for a guy like that."