BACK IN ACTION
Bo Levi Mitchell returns to Stampeders roster in rematch with Elks
Whenever Bo Levi Mitchell was ready to go, he was going to go.
That was the word from the Calgary Stampeders ever since it was first announced that he'd fractured his fibula and would be sidelined while he recovered.
On Saturday, he's back.
The Stampeders received assurances from doctors that Mitchell's leg has recovered to the point where playing presents no risk, and after taking the majority of starter's reps at Thursday's practice Mitchell was listed as the Stamps' starter when they released their depth chart for Saturday's Labour Day Rematch against the Edmonton Elks.
“Yeah, we've got the go-ahead from the doctors that the bone integrity is solid and there's no real risk beyond normal risk,” said Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson. "I want it out there. We would never do anything to put him (in a dangerous) situation.
“Once we got that report and we felt we had a good day yesterday . . . to me, it was the time and you feel, obviously, like your quarterback position is strengthened now. You've got your starter back and you know that your backup spot is solidified.”
With Mitchell out for the last three games, Jake Maier stepped in and proved that he's absolutely capable of helping the Stampeders win games.
That meant there was no reason for the team to rush Mitchell back, despite their 1-4 record and increasingly precarious position at the bottom of the West Division standings.
It's worth noting that despite a nefarious report that suggested the team had been aware of Mitchell's fractured fibula prior to their Week 2 loss to the B.C. Lions — when Mitchell threw four interceptions — they did not, in fact, know what was wrong with his leg at the time.
But while Mitchell was feeling better and moving well throughout the week, he was also cognizant of how poor his performance had been against the Lions and wanted to be absolutely sure he wasn't putting the team and the coaching staff in a position where having him play would make securing a win more difficult
“If at some point in the game I feel like I'm not able to do what I need to do and I don't want this to lead to the wrong thing, I've got to swallow my pride and let (Maier) go in there and finish it,” Mitchell said. “I think that's the biggest thing, it's tough.”
Ultimately, with the Stampeders desperately needing a win this weekend, having Mitchell back figures to be a massive boost.
No, Maier hasn't been a problem for the team, but getting a two-time CFL Most Outstanding Player and a two-time Grey Cup champion back in the lineup is never a bad thing. Mitchell is the team's highest-paid player. He's the star. He's the leader.
And while Maier's performances don't provide any added motivation or anything like that, even Dickenson acknowledged that athletes are prideful people and Mitchell is going to want to take the field and provide a reminder of why the Stamps front office has built their team around his talents.
It's worth noting that in 2019 Mitchell went down for an extended stretch with a shoulder injury. Nick Arbuckle took over while he was out, but when Mitchell returned he provided an immediate spark and helped the Stampeders blow out the Elks in both the Labour Day Classic and the rematch that year.
“You want to go out there and play your best,” Dickenson said. "You do anyways, but everyone has pride and wants to go out there and show 'I've still got it.' As a whole, I've been in those situations, you just take care of yourself but you want to go out there and play well like you do every game.
“But competition is good. Competition is always good.”