MONTREAL — After eight seasons of scoring touchdowns for the Edmonton Eskimos, Fred Stamps now has to figure out how to beat their league-leading defence.
Stamps and the Montreal Alouettes host the Eskimos on Thursday. The veteran slotback will face his former teammates for the first time since being traded to Montreal for wide receiver Kenny Stafford this off-season.
“I just want to win football games,” said Stamps on Wednesday. “I take it as any other game. I don’t want to step out of character and focus on just one game. I’m not really stressing on it.
“I don’t know how I feel right now. I just want to do my job and do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Stamps, 33, has put together an impressive CFL resume since entering the league in 2007. In 122 regular-season games, the New Orleans native has 8,167 yards and 49 touchdowns.
In five games with the Alouettes this season, Stamps has 15 catches for 235 yards but has yet to score a touchdown.
“What he brings to the table is a lot more than what you can measure as far as yards on the field and completions,” said Als head coach Tom Higgins. “He’s a consummate pro who knows how to prepare each and every week. In the locker-room, you can’t find a finer person.
“There have been no disappointments in Fred Stamps. You don’t know how many years someone has, but he serves a great purpose for us right now.”
The off-season deal that sent Stamps to Montreal raised some eyebrows. Stafford is eight years younger than Stamps and likely has a very long CFL career in front of him.
Stafford already has 349 yards and four touchdowns in six games with his new team. The Columbus, Ohio, native is also coming off one of his best performances of the season, catching eight balls for 71 yards and a TD last week versus the B.C. Lions.
Stafford, however, says he’s not out to prove the Als wrong for trading him.
“There’s no revenge game,” he said. “If you’re playing this game for revenge, then you’re playing it for the wrong reasons. I’m playing to show Canada, my family, to show every one how hard I’ve worked and that I’m a good football player.
“There’s no bad blood. It’s just another football game.”
The first-place Eskimos (4-2) will need to rely on Stafford more than usual because their top receiver Adarius Bowman is injured (lower body). The 30-year-old receiver left Edmonton’s last game at halftime and did not return.
Bowman leads the Eskimos with 28 catches and 400 yards.
“Adarius is a great player,” said Edmonton quarterback Matt Nichols. “But we have some hungry receivers that want to prove something. These guys are going to come out and make plays and fill that void.”
On defence, the Eskimos lead the CFL in interceptions (10) and quarterback sacks (19). Edmonton also gives up the fewest first downs, passing yards and points per game.
That doesn’t bode well for the last-place Alouettes (2-4). Higgins’ men have scored a league-low 130 points. The Als are looking to bounce back after dropping their last two matches.
Montreal has lost its four games this season by a combined 11 points.
“It’s frustrating,” Alouettes quarterback Rakeem Cato said. “But as a group, we just have to stay mentally sharp throughout the whole game. It’s time for myself and for the team to take that next step to become a better team. We have to minimize our mistakes.”