Unbeaten Stamps filling holes at running back ahead of clash with Lions

The Calgary Stampeders take pride in their culture of “plug-in-and-play”. When injury forces a player from the lineup, the replacement is expected to excel and help the team win. The Stampeders look to go 5-0 to start a season for the first time since 1995 when the B.C. Lions (2-3) come to town Friday.

CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders take pride in their culture of “plug-in-and-play”. When injury forces a player from the lineup, the replacement is expected to excel and help the team win.

The Stampeders look to go 5-0 to start a season for the first time since 1995 when the B.C. Lions (2-3) come to town Friday.

And with Calgary’s star running back Jon Cornish and backup tailback Matt Walter out with concussion symptoms, it appears former CFL rookie of the year Martell Mallett will play in his first football game since 2009.

The 28-year-old from Pine Bluff, Ark., rushed for 1,240 yards for the Lions in 2009, including a 136-yard performance in a game against the Stampeders, to earn that rookie award.

Mallett then headed to the NFL where he got looks on practice rosters in Philadelphia, Cleveland and New York, but no games.

The six-foot, 208-pound running back returned to Canada in 2012 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. A torn Achilles tendon suffered in training camp wiped out the season and the Tiger-Cats released him prior to training camp the following year.

Signed as a free agent in January, Mallett came off Calgary’s practise roster this week for some first-team reps.

The Stampeders picked up running back Hugh Charles as insurance Monday following his release from the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Mallett has been with the Stampeders since training camp and is more familiar with Calgary’s offensive schemes.

“I look at it as a blessing,” Mallett said Tuesday. “It’s been a while since I played football. I’ve been here, learning the playbook, learning the system and it just came down to my time to go. That’s why I’m here, for depth.”

Cornish, the CFL’s most valuable player last season and rushing leader the past two, went on the six-game injured list last week still suffering the effects of getting knocked out in the season opener.

In his absence, regular returner Jock Sanders led Calgary in rushing yards with 86 on 16 carries in last Thursday’s 26-22 win over Edmonton. Walters left that game in the first quarter.

Mallett has a degree in agriculture business from Arkansas-Pine Bluff. His post-football ambition is to work for U.S. Fish and Wildlife as a special agent chasing down poachers.

“I grew up in a country town. I love hunting and I love fishing, but I hate it when people break the rules,” he said.

Mallett’s brother Michael was shot and killed in their home town in 2012 while Mallett was recovering from his Achilles surgery. Michael is one reason Mallett isn’t done with football and moving onto to his next career.

“If my brother was here, he would want me to continue to play football,” Mallett said. “With that in consideration and my youth, I just feel like I can do it. I have a lot of miles left on me. I haven’t played a whole lot.”

The Stampeders went 14-4 in 2013 with a three-man rotation at starting quarterback and receivers constantly in and out of the lineup.

“That’s been in our biggest thing the last couple of years. Guys plug in and play,” defensive back Keon Raymond said. “We’ve probably been one of the most injury-prone teams over the last couple years I’ve been here, but we haven’t missed a beat.

One of Calgary’s three starting quarterbacks last season returns to McMahon Stadium on Friday in a Lions uniform. Kevin Glenn went 10-3 for the Stampeders before he was taken in the expansion draft by the Ottawa Redblacks and subsequently traded to the Lions.

Charles has taken reps and worked with the return team in two practices since his arrival in Calgary. He’s been cut this season by both the Roughriders and the Edmonton Eskimos, for whom he’s played a combined 55 career games.

The Eskimos released him from training camp. The 28-year-old from Tulsa, Okla., compiled 86 yards on 13 carries in his one game July 12 for Saskatchewan, but a fumble that led to a Lions field goal likely cost him his job there.

Just Posted

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Syrian immigrants feel welcomed

Winter Social held at Festival Hall to promote multiculturalism

Small group rallies with pro-immigration message

Group wanted to counter misinformation on United Nations migration agreement

Trump says ‘things are going very well’ with North Korea

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday that “things are going very… Continue reading

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Kriechmayr edges Swiss favourite Feuz to win WCup downhill

WENGEN, Switzerland — It takes a special run to beat Switzerland’s best… Continue reading

WestJet plane heading to Victoria slides off Edmonton runway, no injuries

EDMONTON — A WestJet plane has slid off an icy taxiway at… Continue reading

Sam Bennett scores twice, Flames beat Red Wings 6-4

Flames 6, Red Wings 4 CALGARY — Sam Bennett scored twice including… Continue reading

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Most Read