Calgary Stampeders get boost with Kamar Jorden, Cory Greenwood returns
There probably isn’t a player on the Calgary Stampeders roster with a completely clean bill of health right now.
In the CFL, nobody’s at 100% come playoff-time. There are bumps and bruises everywhere, and you tend to measure your health on a sliding scale.
When they took the field Wednesday, the Stampeders looked a whole lot healthier than they had only four days earlier when they played the B.C. Lions in their regular-season finale.
There were a lot of faces who had sat out Saturday’s win who most people who follow the team would have expected to see. Derek Dennis, for example, as well as the defensive back trio of Tre Roberson, DaShaun Amos and Royce Metchie.
In the middle of it all, though, were two players few expected to see.
Cory Greenwood was out there, only a month and a half after he was placed on the six-game injured list due to persistent stingers. Most assumed he wouldn’t be back this season.
Even more surprising, though, was Kamar Jorden.
Yes, Jorden had done some stretching with his teammates at various points this year, but Wednesday marked the first time the star receiver had participated in a full practice since he tore three ligaments in his knee during the 2018 Labour Day Classic.
And yet, there he was on Wednesday, running routes and catching balls with his teammates and, frankly, looking like he hadn’t missed a step.
“I’m feeling a lot better,” Jorden said. “I’m out there this week just kinda testing everything. Last practice (a closed practice last week), I was just seeing what I could do and the fact that I got through the whole practice, it was just going period-by-period and I got all the way through so everyone just got a little more excited.
“This week, I want to test everything in real situations, playing it really hard, cutting hard and jumping to really see if I’m ready to go. I’m feeling good. I’m catching the ball, I’m running routes. If I’m feeling good then I’m gonna play.”
We’re at the time of the season when a team’s health is inevitably a big story, and that’s particularly true for the Stampeders.
They fielded a shorthanded group against the Lions and will be taking on a Winnipeg Blue Bombers team in the West Division Semifinal this weekend that is coming off a bye in the final week of the regular season.
The Lions were coming off a bye, too, and should the Stampeders get by the Bombers, they’ll have to travel to Regina to challenge a Saskatchewan Roughriders team that earned a bye this week by finishing first in the West Division.
That’s three straight games against better-rested teams, so the Stampeders need to be careful with giving guys the rest they need during practice week. That’s why it’s probably best not to read too much into the fact that neither Eric Rogers nor Cordarro Law participated in Wednesday’s on-field session. They’re both veterans and are more than capable of missing a day of practice and still contributing.
But having Greenwood and/or Jorden in the lineup would provide a huge boost, both mentally and in terms of what they bring to the field.
Greenwood was leading the CFL in tackles when he got hurt and if he’s able to play, the Stamps would suddenly have four high-end options at linebacker – Dexter McCoil, Wynton McManis and Nate Holley are the others.
“We’re deep over there,” Greenwood said. “If any of us need a break or anything, we’ve got a pretty good rotation and everyone’s getting reps during practice.
“Everyone’s happy with how I progressed, so I’m trending in the right direction. They’re happy and I’m eager, obviously, to get back out there.”
Before anyone gets too far ahead of themselves, it’s worth noting that Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson wasn’t anywhere near committing to having Greenwood or Jorden back in the lineup.
With Greenwood, Dickenson faces a difficult decision. The CFL doesn’t allow hitting in practice, so there’s really no way of knowing how his shoulder will react to in-game contact and whether the stingers might come back.
“If I put him on the roster, I’ve got to feel confident that his shoulder won’t flare up,” Dickenson said. “That’s still a big question mark.”
As for Jorden, Dickenson hasn’t received the go-ahead from doctors.
“I’m going to say no, but he does look pretty good out there and is moving around,” Dickenson said. “He does have a meeting with the doctor today and, like I said, maybe, I guess, but not really thinking that way at this point.”
Jorden, though, isn’t ruling himself out.
He was smiling ear-to-ear after practice and had clearly relished being back on the field with his teammates.
“I’m feeling good, just super happy to be back on the field practising,” Jorden said. “I’m just happy to be back with the team and be able to not just be rehabbing, but actually running around and catching balls.
“I just love the game.”
JORDEN HOLDS OUT HOPE FOR RETURN
You could tell how much Jorden enjoyed being back out on the practice field, running routes and catching balls.
After 14 months sidelined with a brutal knee injury suffered in last year’s Labour Day Classic, Jorden could be forgiven for just taking Wednesday’s practice to enjoy himself.
He did, but he’s also focused on getting back in the lineup before the season’s through.
That may or may not happen, he’s still got to prove to his Stampeders coaches that he’s ready to go.
But he knows that with the Stampeders fielding a young receiving corps, there are contributions he can make in the playoffs.
“It’s a lot of rookies, it’s the first round of the playoffs and there’s a lot of guys who don’t necessarily have experience with the playoffs,” Jorden said. “If I’m able to, I’m going to be out there just to be able to talk to guys and settle rookies down.
“I feel like just me being out there and being able to look at and talk to the guys and actually be there instead of on the sidelines in street clothes, I feel like it would be a big boost.”