Returning to the Canadian Football League is not like riding a bike, receiver Chris Matthews says.
The CFL’s most outstanding rookie in 2012 when he was with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Matthews is back in the league with the Calgary Stampeders.
A receiving corps ravaged by injuries accelerated Matthews’s re-entry. He’s on Saturday’s game roster against the B.C Lions less than two weeks after his signing.
The 6-foot-5, 228-pound Californian caught four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in the 2015 Super Bowl in a losing cause for the Seattle Seahawks.
Matthews was released from the Baltimore Ravens in late 2017.
He says adjusting to the Canadian game again isn’t automatic. Matthews has been in hurry-up mode learning an unfamiliar offence in Calgary.
Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell has helped him a lot, Matthews said.
“It’s a lot of intricate parts to our offence that makes us unique,” Matthews said on Friday. “Bo did something amazing for me today. He wrote down a lot of things I needed to understand during the game. He wrote it down, drew up the picture and everything.
“I’ve never had anybody do that for me, and I’ve been around great quarterbacks. That just showed me these guys really want me to succeed and to help him win. I’m all in.”
Marken Michel (shoulder) is the latest Stampeders receiver to go on the six-game injured list, following Kamar Jorden (knee), DaVaris Daniels (collarbone) and Reggie Begelton (arm) – all in the past six weeks.
The status of slotback Eric Rogers for Saturday’s game was unclear on Friday, as he was in California for the birth of his child.
And running back Terry Williams may have a season-ending wrist injury, Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson said.
So Mitchell will continue to work with inexperienced catchers and now a thinner run/return game on Saturday when Calgary (12-2) is at home to B.C. (7-7).
“I’ve got to go out there and make plays and trust those guys will go out and do it for me as well,” Mitchell said.
Already assured a home playoff game, the Stampeders want to lock down first in the West Division and secure a playoff bye.
A win over the Lions combined with a Saskatchewan Roughriders loss to, or tie with, the Blue Bombers earlier on Saturday would get that done. So would a Calgary tie plus a Saskatchewan loss.
The Lions are racing with Winnipeg (8-7) and the Edmonton Eskimos (7-8) for both the third playoff spot in the West, and the cross-over playoff berth in the East Division.
B.C. has won four of its past five games, including a first road victory this season.
“I think the guys have started to buy into what we’re selling,” Lions head coach Wally Buono said. “Especially on defence, our guys are playing better than they were at the beginning of the year.
“On offence, we’ve been inconsistent, and for us to finish strong, we’ve got to be much more consistent on offence.
“There’s no goal other than to make the playoffs. I think that’s critical.”
After missing three games with a shoulder injury, Lions quarterback Travis Lulay is expected to start on Saturday.
Jonathon Jennings went 2-1 in his absence, and finished up the win in Montreal on Sept. 14, when Lulay was injured.