Kamar Jorden is cleared to play football, which he feels is a victory in itself.
It’s been a little over 14 months since the Calgary Stampeders receiver suffered a catastrophic knee injury in the 2018 Labour Day game against the Edmonton Eskimos.
He’d set a franchise single-game record of 249 receiving yards the week prior against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Jorden ranked second in league receiving yards with a career-high 944.
But a dislocated knee cap and the golden triangle of ligament tears — anterior, medial and posterior — required season-ending surgery that included transplanting tissue from his hamstring into his knee.
Jorden, a CFL West Division all-star in 2018 despite playing just nine full games, watched from the sidelines as his Stampeders won the Grey Cup in Edmonton, and whether he would be able to play at all in 2019 was uncertain.
The six-foot-three, 203-pound receiver didn’t appear in any regular-season games, but Jorden is now available to head coach Dave Dickenson for Sunday’s West Division semifinal against the Bombers.
“Regardless of whether I play or not, this is an accomplishment for me,” Jorden said Friday following practice at McMahon.
“Obviously I’ve been working hard all season to even hope to get to this situation, to even have a possibility to play.
“All I can do is show them that I’m confident, show them that my knee is strong.”
Jorden took first-team reps in warm, dry conditions Friday. Receiver Eric Rogers didn’t practise and is questionable for Sunday, which further opens the door for a possible Jorden return.
Considered one of the CFL’s premiere receivers prior to his injury because of his speed and athleticism, how ready is Jorden to execute in a big-stakes game on what is predicted to be a cold, icy day at McMahon?
“He is a possibility,” Dickenson said. “I understand the risks, but I’ve been given clearance. He’s just trying to get himself ready and make it hard on me.
“He looks good. He’s fresh. He hasn’t played in 15 months. What I like about it is he feels confident in his knee. We’ve got to put our best option out there. If Eric gives me the green light, Eric’s playing.”
The winner of Sunday’s game advances to the division final Nov. 17 in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Calgary is the host city of this year’s Grey Cup on Nov. 24.
Jorden had six catches for 117 yards and a touchdown in the 2017 Grey Cup game in Ottawa against the Toronto Argonauts.
But his fourth-quarter fumble, which Argonauts defensive back Cassius Vaughn returned for a 109-yard touchdown, contributed to Toronto’s 27-24 win.
Jorden, in his sixth season with the Stampeders, initially feared his knee injuries were career ending.
The 30-year-old Bowling Green alum spent a lonely summer doing rehab drills in the end zone while his teammates soldiered on without him.
So Jorden is relishing a return to full practice, regardless of whether he suits up Sunday.
“It’s been a long, long recovery,” Jorden said. “Some days, it’s not been as easy as other days.
“Right now, it’s feeling good, it’s feeling strong, I’ve been testing it a lot of different ways, put myself in a lot of different situations. I wanted the defensive backs to push me. I told them ‘Don’t take it easy on me.’
“If I play, I’m hoping to produce and do the same things I was doing.”
Also, linebacker Cory Greenwood of Kingston, Ont., is expected back in Calgary’s lineup Sunday.
Greenwood led the CFL in defensive tackles with 79 in 12 games before going on the six-game injured list with shoulder stingers.
© 2019 The Canadian Press