Stamps QB Mitchell knew he was going to start all week

When it was announced that Bo Levi Mitchell would start at quarterback for the Calgary Stampeders this weekend, it may have come as a surprise to some people.

Not to Mitchell.

Although Mitchell sustained a knee injury late in the second quarter of Calgary’s 27-3 road win over the Ottawa Redblacks on July 12, the veteran of seven CFL seasons with the Stampeders (4-0) knew he would be good to go to face the visiting Montreal Alouettes (1-3) on Saturday at McMahon Stadium.

“In my head, I knew I was going to start the whole week,” said Mitchell, who will wear a brace on his right knee. “That’s just my mindset never wanting to come off the field.

“Just brace it up, get out there and tough it out and play, but make sure I run the offence to the best of my ability.”

Earlier in the week, Calgary coach Dave Dickenson was a little less optimistic than his QB, but he changed his mind after watching Mitchell run the offence during practice on Thursday.

“I wanted to see how he felt (Friday) morning after doing a little bit more,” said Dickenson, who also gave backup quarterback Nick Arbuckle lots of practice time. “It seems like it responded. I feel good about it and he does too. He’s been around our offence a long time, so the lack of practice reps I don’t think will be a big issue. It doesn’t hurt that we were able to get our other guy some reps.”

Arbuckle, who completed eight of 14 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in a relief appearance against Ottawa, wasn’t shocked that Mitchell was announced as the starter.

“If I was in his same shoes, it would take something extremely serious to keep me out of the game,” Arbuckle said. “Under my own philosophy, if I can crawl out on the field, I’m going to play even if I’m not 100 per cent. That’s just how I’ve always been as a competitor.

“Bo being Bo, it doesn’t surprise me at all that he’ll be starting.”

Should he get the call to relieve Mitchell once again, Arbuckle said he’ll be ready.

“Just from a mental standpoint, I’m preparing like I always do and making sure I’m ready to perform and execute my job if I do get a chance to go in there,” he said. “Whatever it is, making sure that I can perform to the level that I expect of myself and that the coaches expect of me. I’ll be ready to go in if I need to be.”

Meanwhile, quarterback Drew Willy will return to lead Montreal’s offence after missing his team’s last game – a 28-18 loss at home to the Redblacks on July 6 – with a neck-shoulder injury.

“I feel good,” Willy said. “Any time you’re not on the field with your guys, it definitely doesn’t feel good. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and playing football.”

Willy will have to be at his best to help the struggling Als beat the Stamps, who have allowed a stingy 9.5 points per game.

“You’ve just got to mix it up on them,” Willy said. “You can’t just give them one dose of something. You’ve got to have the run game, have different facets or your game and just to make sure you get the ball out quick is also key.”

Willy’s return comes at a good time for the Als, who lost QB Jeff Matthews to a foot injury that will keep him out of the lineup four-to-six weeks.

“We’ve had a bunch of injuries this year and we’re trying to balance them out a little bit,” said Montreal coach Mike Sherman. “I think that’s common in football and how you balance those injuries and how well the other players step up determine the success of your season. One guy goes down, another guy steps up.”

Linebacker Henoc Muamba said he and his Montreal teammates had a good week of practice and will be prepared to take on a tough Calgary team.

“They play within their system, they’re disciplined and they don’t hurt themselves, so it’s our job to match their intensity, play disciplined and not hurt ourselves as well,” Muamba said.

-CP

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