CALGARY — Returning to the Canadian Football League is not like riding a bike, says receiver Chris Matthews.
The CFL’s most outstanding rookie in 2012 when he was with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Matthews is back in the league with the Calgary Stampeders.
A receiving corps ravaged by injuries accelerated Matthews’ re-entry. He’s on Saturday’s game roster against the B.C. Lions less than two weeks after his signing.
The six-foot-five, 228-pound Californian caught four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in the 2015 Super Bowl in a losing cause for the Seattle Seahawks.
Matthews was released from the Baltimore Ravens in late 2017.
He says adjusting to the Canadian game again isn’t automatic. Matthews has been in hurry-up mode learning an unfamiliar offence in Calgary.
Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell has helped him a lot, Matthews said.
“It’s a lot of intricate parts to our offence that makes us unique,” Matthews said Friday. ”Bo did something amazing for me today. He wrote down a lot of things I needed to understand during the game. He wrote it down, drew up the picture and everything.
“I’ve never had anybody do that for me and I’ve been around great quarterbacks. That just showed me these guys really want me to succeed and to help him win. I’m all in.”
Marken Michel (shoulder) is the latest Stampeders receiver to go on the six-game injured list, following Kamar Jorden (knee), DaVaris Daniels (collarbone) and Reggie Begelton (arm) — all in the last six weeks.
The status of slotback Eric Rogers for Saturday’s game was unclear Friday as he was in California for the birth of his child.
And running back Terry Williams may have a season-ending wrist injury, Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson said Friday.
So Mitchell will continue to work with inexperienced catchers and now a thinner run/return game Saturday when Calgary (12-2) is at home to B.C. (7-7).
“I’ve got to go out there and make plays and trust those guys will go out and do it for me as well,” Mitchell said.
Already assured a home playoff game, the Stampeders want to lock down first in the West Division and secure a playoff bye.
A win over the Lions combined with a Saskatchewan Roughriders loss to, or tie with, the Blue Bombers earlier Saturday would get that done. So would a Calgary tie plus a Saskatchewan loss.
The Lions are racing with Winnipeg (8-7) and the Edmonton Eskimos (7-8) for both the third playoff spot in the West, and the cross-over playoff berth in the East Division.
B.C. has won four of its past five games, including a first road victory this season.
“I think the guys have started to buy into what we’re selling,” Lions head coach Wally Buono said. “Especially on defence, our guys are playing better than they were at the beginning of the year.
“On offence, we’ve been inconsistent and for us to finish strong, we’ve got to be much more consistent on offence.
“There’s no goal other than to make the playoffs. I think that’s critical.”
After missing three games with a shoulder injury, Lions quarterback Travis Lulay is expected to start Saturday.
Jonathon Jennings went 2-1 in his absence, and finished up the win in Montreal on Sept. 14, when Lulay was injured.
B.C. LIONS (7-7) AT CALGARY STAMPEDERS (12-2)
Saturday, McMahon Stadium
BYE BYE BUONO?: Saturday’s game could be the last time Wally Buono stands on the McMahon Stadium sidelines if the Lions don’t get to a playoff game there. The 68-year-old has vowed his 25th season as a CFL head coach will be his last. Buono was head coach in Calgary for 12 years and won Grey Cups with the Stampeders in 1992, 1998 and 2001.
HOME AND AWAY: Calgary is 7-0 at home this season, while B.C. is 1-6 on the road.
SINGLETON SIZZLING: With 94 tackles, Stampeders middle linebacker Alex Singleton is on pace for a second straight season of over 100. He recorded a francise-record 123 last season when he was named the CFL’s best defensive player.
AMOS IN: Less than two weeks after Calgary signed him, 24-year-old DaShaun Amos will start at halfback in place of injured veteran Brandon Smith.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press