EDMONTON — Fred Stamps is too busy concentrating on the next phase of his CFL career with the Edmonton Eskimos to waste much time talking about the devastating injury that could have ended it last season.
Stamps suffered a ruptured testicle in a game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Aug. 5 required surgery to remove it.
However, he only missed three games and not only finished the season but registered his third straight 1,000-yard receiving campaign.
“I’m fine,” Stamps said Tuesday after the morning session of two-a-day workouts. “I feel good.”
Stamps, 31, who had 82 catches for 1,153 yards and eight TDs in 15 games last season, had his first followup procedure in February and his second May 24.
Stamps has deemed himself ready to play but is being kept out of full workouts by head coach Kavis Reed.
“I feel like I’m ready to go,” Stamps said. “I’m just waiting on coach Kavis to give me the green light.
“If I had my way I’d have never been injured, but things don’t work like that, so . . . I thank God I’m able to run again and be able to play football.
“That’s my main focus, to be out here and be with the team. I really don’t like talking about the surgeries.”
Stamps, who finished the game against Winnipeg after taking an accidental kick to the groin, has been a study in understated resolve since overcoming an injury that makes grown men wince just talking about it.
“I have the ultimate respect for this guy,” receivers coach Derrell Mitchell said of Stamps. “Some guys would have called it a season. Some guys would have called it a career.
“He fought back. He wanted to be part of this thing because he felt this team was special. A lot of guys I’ve known who played a lot of years in this league would not have come back after that type of injury.”
With quarterback Ricky Ray traded to Toronto and Steven Jyles having the inside track as the starter, the Eskimos are going to need Stamps at his best this season. Still, Reed is taking a cautious approach.
“He hasn’t had the opportunity to do his cardiovascular work as he normally would do during an off-season,” Reed said. “We’re going to be very careful with him to make sure certain he doesn’t have a muscle pull when he first comes back.
“Fred is a pro. Fred is doing the things he needs to do. Last year when he was out, he was able to quickly re-acclimate himself and get back into the game and play for the rest of the season. This being pre-season, he was probably not, even if he was 100 per cent healthy, going to play in the first pre-season game (June 1 in Calgary). That’s not a secret.
“In that second pre-season game (June 21 against B.C), like most of the veterans, that’s their time to shine and get back into game speed. Then, June 30, be ready to play. I don’t have any issues or concerns about Fred being ready.”
Stamps had seasons of 1,402, 1,223 and 1,153 yards as Ray’s preferred target. There’s no question Ray will be missed, but Stamps doesn’t see any reason why the offence can be productive under Jyles or Kerry Joseph.
“Ricky is one of my good friends and I love the guy to death,” Stamps said. “But when he comes here, he’s coming here to win. I miss him, but we have some great quarterbacks here.
“We can’t worry about 2011. It’s 2012 and we’ve got to get things going. Of course, there’s going to be an adjustment, but this is a professional league. It’s not our job to sit here and say who we want to play with us, whatever. Steven is a good quarterback. He’s a great leader.”
As always, Stamps will be the anchor of the receiving corps, regardless who is throwing the passes.
“The thing that makes Fred really good is his change of direction,” Mitchell said. “Fred has really good speed, but it’s his ability to get in and out of his cuts that helped him progress as a receiver.
“The other thing is his attention to detail in meetings. He’s a coachable guy. He’s not one of those guys who is going to try to tell you how to do it. What we need from Fred is just for him to be Fred.”
First things first. Stamps is doing the drills, biding his time and waiting for the green light from Reed.
“The go-to guy thing is cool, but my main focus is to win,” Stamps said. “I never thought I was a go-to guy. I just felt like when the ball came my way, I just made a couple of plays. A few plays, maybe.
“I don’t want to be a me-me type of guy. Me-me guys don’t win championships. A team guy wins championships. If you make plays, the wins are going to come.”