The Calgary Stampeders’ season has gone from bad to worse.
Head coach Dave Dickenson said Tuesday the club is placing veteran quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell on the six-game injured list with a broken fibula. Mitchell, twice the CFL’s outstanding player, was hurt in Calgary’s season-opening 23-20 home loss to the Toronto Argonauts on Aug. 7.
“Hopefully he’s a fast healer,” Dickenson said during a video conference.
After practising sparingly the next week, Mitchell played in Calgary’s 15-9 loss to the B.C. Lions on Thursday, throwing four interceptions. This season, Mitchell has completed 44-of-73 passes for 542 yards with a TD and five interceptions.
“I tried to power through,” Mitchell said. “Maybe not my smartest move in the world but we talk about grit and things like that here and I’ve always tried to play through anything if I can to help my team.
“Just making the smart decision now to take some time off and let these young guys take the reins here a little bit. Just a little bit of bad luck. Injuries come and go. I’m glad it’s not like some soft tissue.”
Decision yet to be made on Mitchell’s replacement
Dickenson wouldn’t say whether Canadian Michael O’Connor or American rookie Jake Maier will start Friday night when Calgary (0-2) hosts the Montreal Alouettes (1-0). But the expectation is O’Connor, an Ottawa native, will get the nod.
O’Connor, 25, is in his second CFL season, first with Calgary, after spending the 2019 campaign with Toronto. The six-foot-five, 223-pound O’Connor dressed for nine games with the Argos and saw action in two, completing 15-of-25 passes for 173 yards and a TD.
Dickenson said whoever starts in place of Mitchell, that player will get every opportunity to succeed.,
“Just go be yourself,” Dickenson said. “I’m not looking to have a quarterback carousel, I’ve never done that.
O’Connor said if he’s chosen as Calgary’s starter, he’ll look to keep things simple.
“Just play within myself, don’t try to do too much,” O’Connor said. “Get the ball to our playmakers, let the receivers make plays.
“That’s going to be big. Stay within myself, go through my reads and let these receivers make plays.”
If O’Connor does start against Montreal, he’d be the second Canadian to open a CFL contest this season. Nathan Rourke, a Victoria native who grew up in Oakville, Ont., started the B.C. Lions’ season opening 33-29 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Aug. 6.
Mitchell has been Calgary’s starter since 2014 and guided the club to two Grey Cup victories (2014, 2018) while being named the league’s outstanding player in 2016 and ’18. And he fully expects to resume playing this season.
“The bone will heal up,” Mitchell said. “I’ll drink some milk and make sure I come back strong.”