CALGARY — Calgary’s newly acquired receivers and the return of Lions linebacker JoJuan Armour to McMahon Stadium will be key subplots when the Stampeders host the B.C. Lions today.
There would be enough intrigue in the matchup without those storylines. The four West Division teams are neck and neck with Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatchewan at 6-5 and B.C. right behind at 5-6.
The Eskimos and Roughriders meet Saturday, so Calgary is anxious to remain at the top of the logjam and put distance on the Lions.
“We definitely want to be 7-5 after this game,” Calgary quarterback Henry Burris said. “This is going to be a very emotional game for us because if we lose this game and B.C. wins, we could be in last place and we don’t want to be there.”
A B.C. win would put the Lions back in the thick of it after starting the season 1-4. A win over the defending Grey Cup champions would boost B.C.’s confidence with six weeks left in the regular season.
“This has been a team we have struggled with for the past few years,” Lions slotback Geroy Simon said. “They don’t play bad against us.”
Calgary’s No.1-ranked offence didn’t look the part in last Friday’s 24-17 loss to Hamilton, where Stamps’ drives sputtered.
“We were so out of sync and out of rhythm. We’d get some yards and get in good field position, we’d find some way to mess it up,” Burris said.
Ryan Thelwell suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in the game and required surgery.
He’s the second veteran receiver to go down for the season after Ken-Yon Rambo, the CFL’s leading receiver last season, suffered a knee injury July 24.
Calgary coach and GM John Hufnagel swung a multi-player deal with struggling Winnipeg (3-8) on Sunday for reinforcement at that position.
Romby Bryant, the Bombers’ top receiver in 2008 with 1,205 yards, and non-import Arjei Franklin have spent this week trying to get up to speed in time for today’s game (TSN, 8 p.m.). The Stamps sent receivers Titus Ryan and Jabari Arthur to Winnipeg along with defensive lineman O’Dell Willis in the deal.
“It is a different feeling because they are a winning team. There’s more confidence, the players and coaches are a lot more positive,” Bryant said.