While his Calgary Stampeders teammates are preparing for the CFL playoffs, Jesse Lumsden is getting ready for the operating room.
The Canadian running back will undergo surgery Nov. 15 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the latest setback in his star-crossed football career.
Lumsden, 28, suffered the season-ending injury tackling Winnipeg's Brandon Stewart late in Friday's 35-32 win over the Blue Bombers.
Word of the injury's extent hit the West-Division champion Stampeders hard Sunday.
"He was so excited about getting back on the field and he was doing a good job with his responsibilities, working hard and you could see the athlete that it is," said Stampeders coach and general manager John Hufnagel.
"You can't say much more at this time. You just hope for the very best, that he does have a good recovery, and gets back doing what he'd like to do."
The torn ACL is the latest injury to stall Lumsden, a former first-round draft pick of the Tiger-Cats who battled shoulder, knee and ankle injuries during his time playing for Hamilton.
"It's a devastating loss," said defensive lineman DeVone Claybrooks. "It's really tough and unfortunate, and he and his family are in my prayers. He's mentally strong and I know he'll persevere and he'll be back."
Lumsden injured his shoulder again in the first game of the 2009 season while with the Edmonton Eskimos, who cut him after the campaign.
While rehabbing that injury, he caught on with the national bobsleigh team, serving as the brakeman for two-man and four-man sleds piloted by Pierre Lueders at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. His sleds were fifth in both events.
The 2004 Hec Crighton Trophy winner then made his return to the CFL late this season with the Stamps, running for a 13-yard touchdown during a 55-24 win at home over the Ticats on Oct. 29.
"A couple of the rookies on the sidelines against Hamilton last week were like, 'Wow, he's actually good,"' said Stamps receiver Nik Lewis. "He was a premier back at one time and he can still be that. It's unfortunate that he got injured, but he's got our support and we'll be here for him."
While he saw limited playing times on special teams and late in the season on offence with Calgary, his teammates said Lumsden brought an infectious positive attitude to the Stamps.
"It's definitely a blow to the team," said linebacker Juwan Simpson. "He'll be missed, but he's a hard worker. I'm sure he'll get back and he'll be ready to go next year."
Although Lumsden will have to cheer on his teammates from the sidelines, Jon Cornish will be ready to go when the Stamps host the West final at McMahon Stadium on Nov. 21 against next Sunday's Saskatchewan-B.C. winner.
"Jon Cornish is fine," Hufnagel said of his Canadian running back, who suffered a concussion returning a kickoff in the fourth quarter against Winnipeg.
Following a 13-5 showing in the regular season, Hufnagel gave his players several days off before they'll return to the practice field on Thursday.
"I think a lot of guys will relax, get back in the gym, heal the nicks and whatever they have going on," Simpson said. "They'll get away from it, but just not completely because we do realize this is a very important time for us.
"We've worked hard all season to get to this point. When we get back on the practice field, guys will be pumped up and ready to go."
Claybrooks said the players shouldn't have any problems staying motivated to face either the Riders or Lions to earn the right to play in the Grey Cup in Edmonton on Nov. 28.
"If you can't stay focused at playoffs, you don't need to be in them," Claybrooks said. "It's pretty easy to focus when you know guys are cleaning out their lockers right now and going home and booking flights."
With a successful regular season behind them, Lewis said the Stamps have just one goal in mind.
"You play to get to the Grey Cup and give yourself the best chance to win it all," he said. "We've proven that we're one of the best teams in this league.
"If we don't get there then it's a disappointment. We still have to put in work, still have to be focused. We approach it the same way we approached the first 18 games - relaxed, confident and ready to go."
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