|Brackenridge at McMahon Stadium Friday|
The powerful Canadian running back makes his debut as a Calgary Stampeder on Saturday against the team that just traded him - the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1:00 pm, TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network).
Messam felt very fresh for his first week of practice with the Stampeders after two full weeks off.
The Riders dealt the six-foot-three, 245-pound slotback to Calgary in the middle of a bye week Oct. 14.
There wasn't enough time for the Stampeders to incorporate Messam into the offence three days later against the Toronto Argonauts, so Messam watched his new teammates from the sidelines before enjoying Calgary's bye week.
"I'm very ready,'' Messam declared Friday. "Well-rested, had a good week of practice under my belt. I feel I've got a good grasp of what we're going to do.''
The 30-year-old from Toronto ranked second in CFL rushing yards (826) behind Andrew Harris of the B.C. Lions (987) prior to B.C.'s game against the Argos on Friday. Messam also ranked fourth in yards from scrimmage with 1,290.
Messam was the first Canadian in 11 years to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season back in 2011 when he compiled 1,057 with the Edmonton Eskimos.
The Stampeders are Messam's fifth team in seven seasons after stints with the Lions, Eskimos, Montreal Alouettes and Roughriders.
"It's hard for a guy to show up Week 17,'' acknowledged Stampeder offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson. "We kind of think of him as a veteran guy, which he is, but not a veteran in our system.
"We're not going to try to overload him either. Hopefully he just does what he does well - run hard, catches the ball, ball security and those types of things and I think he'll have a good game.''
Calgary (12-4) nailed down a home playoff berth back on Oct. 2, while Saskatchewan (2-14) has been in next-year territory for several weeks.
Saturday's game at McMahon Stadium is a must-win for the Stampeders to stay mathematically in contention to win the West Division. But if the Eskimos (13-4) defeat the Alouettes on Sunday, the Esks secure first and host the division final Nov. 22.
"As far as testing concentration, this (game) is the toughest of the year,'' Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell said. "It's going to be the test to make sure guys understand that we have something to fight for.''
The Stampeders are assured of at least playing the division semifinal Nov. 15 at McMahon, but they hope top spot in the West is still on the table in their regular-season finale versus the Lions.
The Roughriders opened up an early 21-3 lead over the Eskimos last week, but fell 35-24 for Saskatchewan's third loss in a row.
Brett Smith will be the Roughriders' starting quarterback Saturday, but interim head coach Bob Dyce indicated he intends to split duties between Smith and Keith Price.
Saskatchewan safety Tyron Brackenridge did not like Messam's comment to reporters in Calgary earlier this week that his former team would "get to feel the boom for real.''
"Is he a big threat? Not even,'' Brackenridge said. "I've seen him in this league for many years and I have yet to see him lower any boom.''
The prospect of Jon Cornish, winner of the CFL's rushing title three straight seasons, and Messam in the lineup together is a tantalizing prospect for Stampeder fans, but Cornish remains sidelined with pain in his neck.
The New Westminster, B.C., native told News Talk 770 this week that concussion protocol dictates he can't return to the field until the neck pain is gone.
Notes: Kicker Tyler Crapigna will play his second game for the Roughriders since Calgary traded him in the Messam deal. With 84 career field goals for McMaster, the 22-year-old from Ottawa ranks second all-time in Canadian Interuniversity Sport . . . Mitchell needs 696 passing yards over Calgary's final two games to join Doug Flutie and Henry Burris as the only Stampeder quarterbacks to surpass 5,000 passing yards in a single season.