Johnson: Tate’s injury not as bad as feared, but he still isn’t throwing
Stamps quarterback still aims to play when team visits Montreal on Friday
Amputation, mercifully, was not deemed necessary. No cast to be seen, either. Not so much as an ungainly sling, in fact.
The right arm that had the local citizenry fond of their football fumbling for smelling salts over the weekend wasn’t even hanging limply by his side like a piece of overcooked fettuccine.
The wild, if completely understandable, speculation about possible cracks or tears or breaks can herewith be put to rest.
That’s the good news.
“I wasn’t able to throw, but I was able to do everything else,” Drew Tate reported Monday. “I’m still working my feet, my drops . . . Still game-planning, still watching film.
“Everything’s the same.
“I’m just not throwing.”
Throwing, it must be said, being a staple of the man’s livelihood.
In the wake of Sunday’s no-news day-off, when Monday’s 11 o’clock morning practice rolled around at McMahon Stadium, all eyes sought out the singular, recently-shorn figure of Drew Tate. Sure enough, there was No. 4 in black, dropping back in an imaginary pocket, mimicking to throw, and then, just before release, that arm would stop at the top of delivery.
Then he’d repeat the pantomime. Over. And over.
The MRI conducted Saturday that had knocked the Calgary Stampeders’ starting pitcher off the mound in Regina the night before discovered a muscle strain in his right forearm, not the elbow tendinitis initially believed. He’s been battling the niggling hurt for about a month.
“There’s a little pain there,” acknowledged Tate, “but we’ll see tomorrow, see how it feels.”
Surrounded by a thicket of media, he admitted he understood, given his recent spotty health history, why there’d been so much initial concern and conjecture. A quarterback with a wonky wing. That’s like Sinatra with laryngitis.
“This is how it is, right?” he replied, with a shrug. “Starting quarterback goes out and everybody has to ask the questions, put it in ink. So it is what it is.”
What it isn’t is remotely reassuring. This is someone remember, who dealt with two major arm injuries last season — a dislocated shoulder and busted wrist. And now, not three games into his second opportunity to seize this team by the throat and make it his own, there’s more medical uncertainty muddying up the waters.
“It’s tough,” empathized backup Kevin Glenn. “Especially when you’re in that era of your career when you’re trying to be established as a guy who can play 18 games, 20 given pre-season and the extra three in the playoffs.
“I went through it at one point my career. Different things happen that you have no control over. So I do, I do feel not just for Drew but other guys who have been through that kind of situation.
“It’s one of those things where you just have to keep getting over it. Drew’s a competitor, so I know if there is something that is wrong he’ll get over it and come back even stronger.”
For recent history buffs, there’s an eerie, symmetric similarity to the current situation. A year ago, remember, Tate suffered his surgery-necessitating dislocated shoulder in Week 2, firing Glenn into the void the following weekend at — you guessed it — Montreal.
The relief man then went out and put in an understudy year for the ages, skippering the Stamps to the 100th Grey Cup game at Rogers Centre before the coach carrying him to championship glory cruelly turned into a pumpkin.
“After being in the league for so long, there’s a bunch of things that get thrown at you,” said Glenn. “But if this were to happen, this would be the same situation. Same team. Same week. So, it’s just one of those things. Like you said, it’s déjà vu. But this is the CFL and anything can happen. We’ve seen that.”
Head knock John Hufnagel, who’s shown such faith in Tate’s ability to lead his Stampeders into the future, sounded both optimistic and realistic at the same time in assessing his marquee man.
“He did participate today,” said the boss. “We have to let it settle down. It’s a day-to-day situation. We’ll see how long it’ll take to get him back on the field, throwing.
“I have a lot of players fighting strains, bumps and bruises. This is no different. I would have to think it doesn’t respond by Day 3 that it’s likely he won’t be the starter.”
He’s one tough Texan, this Drew Tate. No one would be daft enough to question his care or his compete or his commitment. But this latest potential setback won’t satisfy the skeptics wondering whether he isn’t made of Royal Doulton bone china, or maybe there isn’t some fiend out there sadistically jabbing pins into a Drew Tate voodoo doll, or the possibility of having F-R-A-G-I-L-E (That’s Italian!) nameplated on the back of his jersey above the number, or if he perhaps he shouldn’t be muttering “Hail Mary’s” instead of throwing them.
In a perfect world, a just world, Drew Tate will be back at full throttle and ready to fire that Alouette secondary into his own personal cuisinart.
But the world is so rarely either of those things.
At least any knee-jerk wailing or gnashing of teeth triggered this weekend by another setback on Tate’s potholed super highway to stardom has subsided. It’s “only” a forearm muscle sprain.
The worry, though, remains. With reason.
“Am I confident that I’m going to play in Montreal?” Drew Tate repeated to a query Monday. “If I’m called upon to play, I will play very confidently.
“I know this. If they tell me to go in there, I’m going to fire that ball. That’s all I can tell you.”
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him at email@example.com
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