Re­ceiver Jor­den med­i­cally cleared to play

Re­ceiver has been med­i­cally cleared to play for first time since knee in­jury

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - DANNY AUSTIN [email protected] twit­ter.com/dan­nyaustin_9

The last time Ka­mar Jor­den played against the Win­nipeg

Blue Bombers, he set fran­chise records for the Cal­gary Stampeders.

Ev­ery foot­ball fan in the city re­mem­bers that day. Jor­den seemed to catch ev­ery ball thrown in his gen­eral vicin­ity, and once it was in his hands he would shake off what­ever Bombers de­fen­sive back was try­ing to tackle him and ac­cel­er­ate for more yards.

The num­bers were stag­ger­ing. Jor­den fin­ished with a Stampeders record of 249 yards. He caught 10 of the 11 passes in­tended for him and also scored a touch­down.

Some­how, though, it feels like even get­ting on the field for Sun­day’s West Di­vi­sion semi­fi­nal might be just as im­pres­sive as what Jor­den ac­com­plished that day.

If — and it’s still a big if — Jor­den is in­cluded on the Stampeders’ ros­ter for Sun­day’s do-or-die matchup with the Bombers, it will mark the cul­mi­na­tion of a re­mark­able re­cov­ery from a dev­as­tat­ing in­jury that saw him tear three lig­a­ments in his knee in last year’s Labour Day Clas­sic.

It was the sort of in­jury that ends ca­reers, more of­ten than not.

Jor­den re­fused to ac­cept that. He be­gan re­hab­bing as soon as he could, go­ing through the lonely process of re­build­ing his strength in the knee over 14 months. The Stampeders re-signed him to a two-year con­tract ex­ten­sion in the off-sea­son, but for most of the sea­son it looked like we’d have to wait un­til 2020 to see him catch­ing passes.

This week, that changed. Jor­den was back on the prac­tice field with his team­mates on Wed­nes­day. The Stamps held a closed prac­tice Thurs­day, but he was even more in­volved Fri­day.

There are no guar­an­tees that prac­tis­ing means he’ll play Sun­day against the Bombers, but he was tak­ing first-team reps Fri­day and it seems in­creas­ingly likely.

“I’m so happy,” Jor­den said. “I’m just happy to be back on the field. I feel like you don’t re­ally re­al­ize how much you ac­tu­ally love the game un­til you go through some­thing like that. Just to be back out here with my team­mates af­ter watch­ing them in prac­tices, meet­ings, be­ing around them the whole time and hav­ing to be on the side do­ing my own thing, just to be out there talk­ing to the guys, jok­ing … I’m just happy to be back out there.”

Again, it’s re­ally worth em­pha­siz­ing it re­mains un­clear whether Jor­den will be play­ing Sun­day. Stampeders head coach Dave Dick­en­son con­firmed that Jor­den re­ceived med­i­cal clear­ance to play, but we’re talk­ing about a player who hasn’t been in­volved in a game since early Septem­ber of 2018 step­ping into a must-win play­off game. That’s a tough ask.

Yet there are rea­sons to be­lieve Jor­den’s re­turn might be com­ing at a moment where the Stampeders need him. Eric Rogers hasn’t prac­tised all week, and backup slot­back Aaron Peck is fight­ing through an in­jured hip.

If nei­ther is ready to go and Jor­den is ready, ex­pect him in the lineup.

“He is a pos­si­bil­ity,” Dick­en­son said. “Un­der­stand the risks, but I’ve been given clear­ance. He’s just try­ing to get him­self ready and make it hard on me. You’re right, Eric isn’t there and Aaron Peck is also fight­ing a bruised hip. I have to get a squad ready to go, and he’s an op­tion.”

There’s lit­tle doubt Jor­den’s Stampeders team­mates and coaches are thrilled to have him back on the prac­tice field and would love to have him in the lineup.

This is a guy who had 55 re­cep­tions for 944 yards and six touch­downs be­fore Labour Day last year. He might have had a se­ri­ous case for be­ing the CFL’S Most Out­stand­ing Player in 2018 if he hadn’t suf­fered the knee in­jury.

That’s not re­ally why the Stamps are so ex­cited to have him back, though. They know what he went through with the in­jury and the jour­ney he’s had to take to even get back in con­tention for a spot on the ac­tive ros­ter.

“I think any­body in foot­ball, there will be guys on the other team who he’ll catch the ball and they’ll tackle him and they’ll say ‘Hey man, good to see you back,’” said Stamps quar­ter­back Bo Levi Mitchell.

“It’s one of those things. We’re all en­e­mies and ev­ery­thing on the field, but in sports, ath­letes are ath­letes and we all hope for (good things for) each other, es­pe­cially when stuff like that hap­pens.

“That was a pretty tragic in­jury, so if he gets that chance I think ev­ery­body’s go­ing to be lifted by that.”

AL CHAREST

Cal­gary Stampeders re­ceiver Ka­mar Jor­den hasn’t been in a game since be­ing in­jured against the Win­nipeg Blue Bombers last sea­son.

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