Stamps’ O-line a question mark ahead of West Final

Pierre Lavertu will be out with hamstring injury, one of two key losses for the Stamps going into the West Final. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

CALGARY — It will be an interesting few days for the Calgary Stampeders‘ offensive line.

Injuries to a pair of Canadians means coming up with a contingency plan in case they can’t play in the CFL’s West Division final Sunday in Edmonton against the Eskimos.

After a couple of days off from practice, the Stampeders get back on the field Wednesday.

"It will be busy," Stampeders head coach and general manager John Hufnagel said Tuesday. "There will be a lot of shuffling, but we will have to make a decision on Day 3 so they can get a full practice under their belts in positions we hope they’ll start the game with and hopefully finish."

Sunday’s winner books a berth in this year’s Grey Cup on Nov. 29 in Winnipeg.

Centre Pierre Lavertu has a hamstring strain and won’t practise before Friday, Hufnagel said. Left guard Shane Bergman was to undergo a scan later Tuesday to determine the extent of his upper-body injury.

Hufnagel was already planning for the addition of an international player to the offensive line. Californian John Estes, signed as a free agent in July, started three games at left guard for the Stampeders this season, but also played centre at the University of Hawaii.

Spencer Wilson shifted from right guard to the middle when Lavertu limped to the sideline in the first quarter of Sunday’s 35-9 division semifinal win over B.C.

The versatile lineman from Toronto has played every position on the Stampeders’ offensive line during his career, including centre. Wilson put one snap over quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell’s head in the fourth quarter, but Calgary had the game well in hand by then.

"He had the one really bad snap and had some low snaps, but Spencer does practise the position," Hufnagel said. "It’s not like it was foreign to him. He graded out well."

Toronto defensive lineman Quinn Smith has flipped back and forth all season as Calgary’s emergency call-up when an offensive lineman went down.

"He’s very aware of the playbook, the calls," Hufnagel said. "He’s been a very handy person to have on your roster this year."

Hufnagel prefers to leave Junior Turner where he belongs at defensive tackle, although Turner didn’t hurt Calgary’s protection in the half he played guard for Bergman on Sunday. Mitchell didn’t get sacked in the game.

Karl Lavoie of Quebec City coming off the injured list at left guard is an option with internationals Derek Dennis and Garry Williams remaining at tackle.

The Stampeders were tied with the Montreal Alouettes for the fewest sacks allowed this season (33).

The Eskimos haven’t played a game since Nov. 1 as they finished the regular season with a bye week followed by another for finishing first in the division.

Edmonton will be the healthier and more rested team. Their coaches have had ample time to prepare for either the Lions or Stampeders. Hufnagel didn’t believe the long break will be a disadvantage for the Eskimos on Sunday.

"I don’t believe so. I wish I had that problem to handle this year," Hufnagel said. "I’m sure they had a plan. They’ll be fully prepared and they will be ready to go."

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