Stamps stick with Arbuckle, give Mitchell another week
WINNIPEG – The Calgary Stampeders are giving Bo Levi Mitchell one more week.
The reigning CFL Most Outstanding Player was close to getting back in the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after missing the last five games with a tear in his pectoral muscle, but ultimately not close enough.
Head coach Dave Dickenson opted to go with Nick Arbuckle behind centre for another week with the intention of starting Mitchell when the Stampeders host the Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 17.
“I think Bo was close and I’m being a little cautious,” Dickenson explained. “It was just too short a week, too. I needed two more practices and then I think I would have had a much tougher decision. One practice, I just didn’t think it was enough. I think physically he could do it, but his feet and his eyes just need more time.”
It was always unlikely that Mitchell was going to be in the lineup Thursday, especially because the Stampeders played five days ago and beat the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday night.
That meant they only had one real practice, on Tuesday, and Mitchell barely took any first-team reps.
Of course, the salary-cap effect of sitting Mitchell for one more week was also a factor. CFL rules dictate that if a player is placed on the six-game injured list and is out for all six of those games, his team receives salary-cap relief in the form of his salary for that stretch.
Had Mitchell played against the Bombers, the Stamps wouldn’t have received that cap relief.
“If we’re not going to play him, there’s no reason to just dress him as a third-string and not get the salary-cap relief on the six-game,” Dickenson said. “Made that decision. Confident in Nick and Montell (Cozart). I’d ultimately like to have three quarterbacks on the roster in case something crazy happens.”
Mitchell should be expected back in the lineup when the Stamps host the Als next week, but it will be Arbuckle who handles the quarterback duties on Thursday night.
Arbuckle has exceeded expectations in his first stint as a starter, leading the Stamps to a 4-1 record since Mitchell went down and also leading them to a dramatic comeback victory over the B.C. Lions on the night Mitchell got hurt.
The 25-year-old has shown he can win games at the CFL level and it will be interesting to see whether one of the league’s other eight teams is interested in giving him a shot as a starter.
That’s a long way off, though. For now, the focus is strictly on the Bombers and Thursday’s fight for first place in the West Division.
It may be Arbuckle’s last start of the season, but that’s not something that seems to be bringing him down.
“I haven’t really looked at it that way at all,” Arbuckle said. “I’m just excited to be able to start again. When I was going into the season I wasn’t expect to be able to start any games. Bo has kind of been that warrior who never really misses a game and I expected to come in and do my short-yardage and learn as much as I could and get better every day so I could be ready for whenever the opportunity comes.
“The fact that I have another opportunity tomorrow to do whatever I can to help the team win is exciting enough for me, whether it’s the last start of the season or not.”