Eskimos clinch playoff spot ahead of clash with Stampeders

 

 
 
 
 
Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish breaks free from Edmonton Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt during  a Canadian Football League game at Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 7, 2012.
 

Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish breaks free from Edmonton Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt during a Canadian Football League game at Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 7, 2012.

Photograph by: Greg Southam Greg Southam

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Edmonton

Last in CFL West

Record: 7-10

Last game: 27-25 loss to Montreal

Calgary

Second in CFL West

Record: 11-6

Last game: 41-21 win over B.C.

With the Toronto Argonauts’ last-second win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Thursday night, the Eskimos have clinched a playoff spot.

Friday’s game, along with Saturday’s Saskatchewan Roughriders–B.C. Lions game, will paint the rest of the playoff picture. An Edmonton win and a Saskatchewan loss would bump Edmonton into third in the West Division, setting them up for a playoff game in Calgary next week. An Eskimos loss or a Riders win would send Edmonton in as the crossover team in the East Division, where they’d face Ricky Ray and the Argos.

QB Tate returns

With second place in the CFL West Division locked up, the Stampeders are starting Drew Tate at quarterback.

Tate hasn’t started since Week 2, when he separated his non-throwing shoulder against the Argonauts. Tate took his first snaps last week in Calgary’s blowout win over B.C. He was five-of-seven for 68 yards and had one touchdown. Kevin Glenn, who has taken over starting duties this season, will play the second half, with third-stringer Bo Levi Mitchell potentially drawing in, the Stampeders say.

Reinforcements in tow

The final game of the regular-season schedule will allow some key Calgary players the chance to rest before their playoff battle in Vancouver next week.

Slotback Nik Lewis will not play on Friday, nor will receiver Anthony Parker. Former Eskimo Chris Bauman is expected to fill in for Parker.

Key injuries

Defensive back Rod Williams (concussion) will miss his first game of the season this week. Pete Ittersagen gets to make his CFL debut in Williams’ place.

Offensive lineman Orrin Thompson has hurt both of his knees and will also miss his first game of the season. The Eskimos have placed their tackle on the nine-game injured list, bringing his season to an end. Rookie Matt O’Donnell goes in at right tackle for his first CFL start. Defensive lineman Shawn Lemon is out of the lineup this week to make room for the actual return of DE Marcus Howard, who was a last-minute scratch on Sunday in Montreal. Howard has missed the majority of the season (11 games) with a hamstring injury.

Player(s) to watch

Kerry Joseph/Matt Nichols Eskimos QBs

Joseph has struggled the last two weeks (16 of 43 passing, 262 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions) and Matt Nichols shone in a furious 10-minute rally attempt against Montreal on Sunday.

If Joseph isn’t producing against Calgary — and especially with the pressures of a playoff game removed thanks to Hamilton’s loss on Thursday night — Nichols should get into the game quickly. The majority of Nichols’ playing time has come against Calgary this year. He started and played the first half of a pre-season game there on June 15 and got his first regular-season CFL start there on Sept. 28 in a 39-15 loss.

Quotable

“What’s the score?”

— Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel, on whether or not he’d take tailback Jon Cornish out of the game if he set the single-season CFL record for rushing yards on Friday. Cornish needs 50 yards to top Eskimos legend Norman Kwong’s 56-year-old record of 1,437 yards.

 
 
 
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Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish breaks free from Edmonton Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt during  a Canadian Football League game at Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 7, 2012.
 

Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish breaks free from Edmonton Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt during a Canadian Football League game at Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 7, 2012.

Photograph by: Greg Southam Greg Southam

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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