Join us throughout training camp for frequent updates on the Stampeders' preparations for the 2012 Canadian Football League season. Camp begins on Thursday, May 31 and runs through June 22 when the Stamps will play the second of their two pre-season contests.
June 19, 2012
This offensive lineman from Barrie, Ont., is entering his fourth season with the Stamps after being drafted out of St. Francis Xavier University
I’m feeling really good. It’s unfortunate that the injury happened but I’m fortunate to be here in Calgary where they make sure they take really good care of you. I had great treatment, great surgery and it’s back to 100 per cent again.
Really good. I’ve had a good camp this year and we’re getting better every day. That’s the main thing that’s important for us.
It’s weird that for the first time, we don’t really have any old guys at all. I don’t think anyone is over 30 — Na’Shan maybe and he’s a (CFL) rookie. It’s a really good group though. We’ve been fortunate that we’ve all been together for a long time. We’ve been a core here for the last four years so there’s a lot of familiarity, which is good.
I took a vacation for the first time in about 10 years. Me and my girlfriend went to Mexico for a week. Fantastic. It was just good to get away and just relax for a little bit.
Win the Grey Cup, first and foremost. Second, I want it to be a good year for the o-line. I feel really confident in the guys we’ve got this year and I’m hoping we all come together and achieve to the level I think we’re capable of.
June 18, 2012
So far in training camp, Fred Bennett has made a major impression on and off the field.
For instance, his performance in the rookie talent show — a solo singing effort — wowed the vets and drew a standing ovation. Then, of somewhat greater importance when it comes to making the final roster cut, were the two interceptions the defensive back hauled in during Friday’s pre-season opener against the Edmonton Eskimos.
“My main thing coming up here was to gain the trust and respect of my teammates and my coaches,” said the University of South Carolina product. “I focused on that by my play on the field, not so much anything off the field. I felt like what I did on the field would help me gain their trust and respect.”
And the singing?
“That was just good entertainment for my teammates,” he said with a chuckle. “I love entertaining my teammates. But it all happens on that field.”
Bennett may be a CFL rookie but he’s hardly a newbie in the world of professional football. Prior to signing with the Stamps, he had five years of experience in the National Football League and played a total of 49 games for the Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals.
“I never feel like a rookie,” he said. “I feel that I have enough experience to come out here and compete and do things the right way. I thought (the transition) was real smooth. The field size is a lot different — you’ve got to get used to that. There’s a lot more running and a lot more time for the quarterbacks.
“It’s all football. Once you strap these pads on and strap the helmet on and go out on that field in between those lines, it’s football. No matter how big or small the field is or what the rules are, it’s still football. If you can play football, you can play anywhere. My teammates and my coaches have made the transition so smooth for me, so I thank them.”
The results of his first CFL game-action test would support the suggestion Bennett has been able to get comfortable quickly.
"Fred did an excellent job (Friday) night," said Stamps general manager and head coach John Hufnagel. "He showed that he had great ball skills and great timing."
“I take a lot of positive things out of the game,” said Bennett, who had a third interception negated by a Calgary penalty. “Glad to have the win first and foremost. I was pleased with my performance, but I feel I can do a lot of things better after watching the film. I can always get better.”
June 18, 2012
The Stampeders are the undisputed league leaders in Muleriders. And by Muleriders we mean products of the University of Southern Arkansas, a school with a very unusual nickname for its sports teams.
The Stamps already had Southern Arkansas alum Nik Lewis and now they’ve added his former college teammate Kenny Pettway, a defensive end who played for Edmonton in 2010.
It’s been a long while since Lewis and Pettway were teammates — Pettway transferred to Grambling State after two seasons at Arkansas and this is Lewis’ 10th season with the Stamps — but they had often thought about the possibility of a reunion.
“We’ve talked for a long time,” said Pettway. “We played college ball together so we’ve been looking for this moment for a long time — actually for 11 years since we (last) played together on the field. This is a special time for me to be able to play with a teammate from college.”
After leading the Eskimos in sacks in 2010, Pettway unsuccessfully looked for NFL work last year and then wound up sitting the year out to remain close to his family.
A return to the field was always on his mind.
“The whole time I was working out and training,” he said. “I got into a little mixed martial-arts training for my hands and feet and staying in shape. I stayed in the gym so I would still be in shape to play football.
“I’m glad I’m back on the field. I’m glad the club gave me the opportunity to get back on the field and do something I love. I feel good to be out here.”
The Stamps know all about Pettway’s abilities — the Texan had a two-sack game against Calgary in the Labour Day rematch game in 2010.
“I just remember that when he played for Edmonton, he was a strong, quick player who has the ability to be disruptive,” said head coach and general manager John Hufnagel.
June 18, 2012
The Calgary Stampeders announced today that the following players have been signed:
IMP RB Derrick Locke
IMP DL Kenny Pettway
The following player has been released:
IMP LB Joe Henderson
June 17, 2012
The Calgary Stampeders announced today that the following players have been released:
NIP OL John Bender
NIP LB Justin Conn
IMP DB Brent Vinson
IMP REC Joe West
June 16, 2012
With the first CFL-mandated roster cutdown date looming, the Calgary Stampeders announced today that the following players have been released:
IMP DL K.C. Asiodu
IMP DB Tim Clark
IMP LB Robert McCune
IMP DB Jason Teague
IMP RB Bryson Tucker
IMP REC Curtis Walls
IMP DL Renard Williams
“I want to thank all of these players for their commitment to the Calgary Stampeders over the past two weeks of training camp,” said John Hufnagel, head coach and general manager of the Stamps. “And I would like to single out Robert McCune and thank him for his two-plus years of hard work and sacrifice for this football club. He was a leader on and off the field.”
June 13, 2012
This time last year, DeVone Claybrooks was battling the aches and pains that come with training camp. This year, he finds himself fighting the grind of training camp from another vantage point.
Claybrooks, a staple on the Stamps D-line for three seasons, has taken the reigns as Calgary’s defensive line coach.
The transition has been smooth so far and Claybrooks credits defensive co-ordinator Rick Campbell.
“Rick’s been doing a great job putting me in situations where I can do my best,” said Claybrooks. “He’s really been letting me take ownership of the growth and with that comes great responsibility.”
As a player, Claybrooks often found himself helping out the younger members of the roster.
“As you help the young guys out, you see that role and from there you just kind of fall into (coaching),” he said.
Although Claybrooks never had any concrete plans to get into coaching, he’s more than happy with the opportunity he finds himself in.
“I had a few opportunities last year to help the guys and, after my retirement, the Stampeders family treated me so well, I really didn’t want to be anywhere else I’m really looking forward to working with this group and having success.”
Being that Claybrooks played with many members of this year’s line, he believes he has some good insight into the group he’s now overseeing.
“I think our D-line will be good,” he said. “We have a nice blend of young guys and veterans right now we’re dong a good job. I think as long as we continue to grow and do the little things technique-wise, we should see success.”
Claybrooks likes the familiarity he has with many members of this group.
“I rely on the ones I’ve played with — they know what I expect and the standards that I want to see,” he said. “The veterans trust me and that makes the rookies trust me a lot more.”
According to Claybrooks, Sunday’s mock scrimmage was exactly what he expected: “We set ourselves up well but we need to see what happens when we get closer to the regular season because some people will look like a deer caught in the headlights and others will embrace the opportunity and make the most of it.”
Which brings us to Friday’s pre-season opener against Edmonton.
“We’ve got a good group of kids that are going to go out and try to earn a job,” said Claybrooks. “Nobody has a job yet. We have a good group of veterans trying to fight and hold on to their jobs.”
For the Stamperders players, Wednesday was a glorious day in training camp. That’s because the last of the two-a-day practices was held at McMahon Stadium.
It was a forgiving two-a-day at that as the second session was called early because of the afternoon rain.
The Stampeders added import defensive lineman Kenny Iwebema.
Non-import receiver Jabari Arthur (hamstring), non-import offensive lineman Jon Gott (head), import offensive lineman Edwin Harrison (hamstring), import linebacker Joe Henderson (hamstring), import receiver Nik Lewis (hamstring), non-import defensive lineman Justin Phillips (knee), non-import defensive lineman Junior Turner (hamstring), and import receiver Joe West (quad) missed today’s practices.
The Stampeders will hold a walkthrough practice on Thursday, June 14 from 10-11:15 a.m. in preparation for Friday’s pre-season game against the visiting Edmonton Eskimos.
June 13, 2012
Today, we’re chatting with the veteran Stampeders defender and Presidents’ Ring winner Keon Raymond.
It is. The only thing that’s different is the people they bring in. Training camp is always going to test and see how strong you are and how mentally prepared you are and how your body holds up. This is a long season and training camp is just a preview of that.
I’m enjoying it. I think he’s a great coach and he allows us to go around and make plays. I’m excited to go out there the first game and to work with Rick.
It’s always good to get a chance to hit against some other people. I mean, we’ve been seeing the same colour jerseys against our offence for some time now and it gets a little frustrating. But now you get a chance to see someone else and line up against them and hit them. Now we’re coming together as a team instead of just offence and defence. This is big for the rookies, for them to come on and impress the coaches, make plays and show that they want to be here.
I was definitely really excited. I grew up a Cardinals fan. Some of my fondest memories was playing in my neighbourhood and the police officer would go around the neighbourhood and hand out Cardinals cards. I’m glad they won again. Ozzie Smith — The Wizard — was one of my favourite players of all time. I wanted to do backflips after seeing him do them out on the field.
I’m definitely going to have my football camp again this year during the bye week. I’m just sorting out the dates right now. I think I’m going to get a large amount of kids who show up this year. Some were mad that I missed last year. Some of my teammates were gracious enough to hang around to help out. It’s just an opportunity for kids to tune their skills up before their season gets started.
June 13, 2012
Friday’s pre-season opener with the Edmonton Eskimos at McMahon Stadium will give the Stampeders a chance to answer some questions as the process of building the 2012 roster continues.
Training camp practices are useful for helping to identify talent but sometimes it’s only in the heat of game competition that a player’s true ability and potential comes to light.
Head coach and general manager John Hufnagel announced on Wednesday morning that Drew Tate will get the start at quarterback but that sophomore Brad Sinopoli, veteran newcomer Kevin Glenn and rookie Bo Levi Mitchell will also all see action.
“Hopefully,” said Hufnagel, “all the quarterbacks will get an opportunity to show what they can do.”
This will also be the debut for new defensive co-ordinator Rick Campbell’s defence, which will finally get a chance to hit someone in a different-coloured uniforms.
Hufnagel said Campbell has lived up to all of his expectations so far in training camp.
“I always knew how he would handle things,” he said. “Rick is a very level-headed, low-key type of coach. He’s an excellent teacher. He’s strict, but in a mellow way. He communicates very, very well with the players and he has the great ability of correcting in the meeting room in a positive manner.”
June 12, 2012
Special-teams co-ordinator Mark Kilam is working with two kickers who between them have played the equivalent of two professional seasons.
He is also showing the ropes to rookies who may not have recently played on special teams in several years and to Americans who aren’t accustomed to covering kicks and punts on such a large field.
But surely he can take it easy when it comes to coaching up long-snapper Randy Chevrier, a veteran entering his 10th CFL season, right?
“I still coach Chevy every day,” Kilam countered. “He’ll be the first one to tell you. Even if he is a vet, there are always things that you can learn and things that you can improve and that’s what we’re working on.”
As far as the foot soldiers are concerned, the injury to Australian punter Scott Crough leaves third-year man Rob Maver and sophomore Rene Paredes as the two candidates.
Maver started the 2011 campaign as the Stamps’ place-kicker but an injury limited him to the first game of the season. Paredes was signed for Week 2 and handled the kicking duties the rest of the way.
With the off-season departure of punter Burke Dales, the competition is on for all the kicking work.
“We’re seeing who can win the jobs,” said Kilam. “Rob has done a nice job with his punting and we feel pretty good there. Rene took punt snaps today as well. The good thing about both of those guys is that they can do all three (place-kick, kickoffs and punts). They trained for that in the off-season.
“We’re still competing, we’re still charting all of our kicks — all of our punts, all of our kickoffs and field goals — so we’re just going to let them continue to compete and see how it shakes out in the pre-season games.”
The same thing applies to the coverage teams.
“We’ll pare it down,” said Kilam, “and just focus on a couple of things — who can block, who can run, who can make a tackle in space, who can win a one-on-one matchup. That’s what we’re looking at on special teams.
“The one thing about special teams is that it’s made up of the whole team. You bring guys together from different units and different positions, guys who don’t normally work together and they’re working together as one cohesive unit. It’s that one part of the game where everyone is involved and that’s what makes it special.”
Day 10 recap
Non-import receiver Jabari Arthur (hamstring), non-import offensive lineman Jon Gott (head), import offensive lineman Edwin Harrison (hamstring), import linebacker Joe Henderson (hamstring), non-import defensive lineman Justin Phillips (knee), non-import defensive lineman Junior Turner (hamstring) and import receiver Joe West (quad) missed the afternoon practice.
The Stamps are on the field for two sessions on Wednesday, June 13. Practices run from 9:05 to 11a.m. and 4:20 p.m. to 6 p.m.
June 12, 2012
The sophomore kicker from Montreal talks about his first camp in Calgary, among other subjects
So far, things have been going well. I’m happy with how I’m kicking, there have been a few kicks I wish I could take back but that’s why we have training camp — we’re all here to get better. I can’t wait to get to pre-season and start winning games.
I haven’t approached this camp any different. I believe in a strong work ethic — no different than taking the same approach with a PAT or a 50-yard attempt. I approach every practice or game like it could be my last and this camp is no different.
Rob is a great guy. We both started the year well. Hopefully, the regular season begins with both of us here. We’re good friends off the field, we speak regularly in the off-season and work hard at pushing each other to do better.
My off-season was great. I finished school — graduating from Concordia is something I’m very proud of. I worked this off-season with Shawn Mayne and Adrian Davis at their football camp. I had a blast working with young kickers and helping out anyway I could.
My first goal obviously is to make the team. If I can make the team, I want to have a better kicking percentage — I want to be kicking 80 per cent or higher. All and all. I want to score points and help the team win. From there everything will take care of itself.
June 11, 2012
It was a relatively light day on Monday as the Stamps went through a single afternoon rundown practice in addition to the regular meetings. The team will resume two-a-day schedule Tuesday as the Stamps prepare for Friday's pre-season home game against the Edmonton Eskimos.
The Stampeders added non-import OL Dale Furber and released import DL Cody Brown and non-import DB Andre Clarke.
The Stamps are on the field for two sessions on Tuesday, June 12. Practices run from 9:05 to 10:55 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. to 6 p.m. As per league policy, ENG cameras will be permitted to shoot from approximately 9:05 to 9:30 a.m. during the morning session and 4:20 to 4:45 p.m. during the afternoon practice.
June 11, 2012
The Stamps, it would seem, have got talent.
One of the great training camp traditions is the Rookie Show and the audience of veteran players typically isn’t shy about voicing its disapproval of substandard songs or skits. For Sunday’s Stamps Rookie Show, however, it was all praise and glory.
“Rookie Show was Crazy!” tweeted third-year offensive lineman Edwin Harrison. “If this was a prelude of the season to come #GreyCupBound #ProudVet”
The reviews were just as glowing the day after.
“One of the best that I’ve seen in my career,” said receiver Arjei Franklin, a seventh-year vet.
“That was by far the best performance I’ve ever seen,” chimed in receiver/return man Larry Taylor.
This year’s event was a comeback of sorts as the 2011 Rookie Show earned much scorn from the vets.
“It was terrible,” said defensive lineman Justin Phillips of last year’s event. “This year, we didn’t incorporate any technology so the guys couldn’t edit them and make sure they were good, so they had to think on the spot.
“Everyone did a great job. All the guys who participated did a great job and we couldn’t be happier with the performances. We had a little bit of everything. Some singing, some poetry, some skits . . . it was great.”
“Big time (improvement),” said defensive back Eric Fraser, who jokingly suggested last year’s rookies should try again after being outclassed by the Class of 2012. “It seemed that every group was bigger and better this year. The first performance was good. The second performance was good. All the way up to the final performance. It got the guys going and we had a good time with it.”
On a night of big efforts, defensive back Fred Bennett was one of the standouts.
“He sang a gospel song,” said Taylor, “and you could tell he came from a church background and he could sing. And it was a single performance by him alone, so that got the guys on their feet.”
The timing for the Rookie Show was perfect as far as the players were concerned.
“To be honest with you, as a team, we needed something like that,” said Franklin. “Camp’s tough and it’s a grind — that’s just how it is. So for us to get an opportunity to bond together as a team and get some laughs in, it was a good night.”
June 11, 2012
Bo Levi Mitchell is a quarterback from Texas who had an outstanding collegiate career at Eastern Washington. This is his first pro camp.
Training camp so far has been a good learning experience for everyone. Not only that, training camp is great because you have a lot of guys coming together to work for one goal. Right now, I feel the coaches have us on a good head start. We already have a lot of practice in right now and it feels like we are really coming together as a team.
The first thing that comes to mind in terms of why working with Coach Dickenson has been so great is the fact he was a quarterback himself. It’s huge — he’s been in our shoes. I was pretty familiar with Coach Dickenson’s achievements while he was at Montana. Being that I played at Eastern Washington, everyone knows about what Coach Dickenson did before he got to the CFL. Once I got here, I learned pretty fast how well he did up here and everything he did for the team. It’s a great relationship with all the quarterbacks. The big thing with all the quarterbacks here is we force each other to compete and it really brings out the best in all of us.
I’m learning so much from both Drew and Kevin. I’m so grateful for everything they are showing me. Working with them has been great because they could easily do the opposite — they could look at me as the new guy or a guy who’s trying to take their job and decide to hold out on me. But that’s not the way they are at all. Kevin has a lot of experience in this league and Drew, being the starter, helps me whenever he can.
The fans are the best part about high school football in Texas. The one question I get all the time is: “How many fans do y’all average?” We were usually right around 15,000 per game. The fans made everything so special. It was a bit like Friday Night Lights the movie, where certain shops closed down during game time.
Ketchup potato chips are something I’ve never seen before until I got to Canada. The first time I saw them I was completely shocked! I had to post a picture of them on Twitter. I haven’t tried them yet and I don’t think I will but they are definitely something unique.
June 10, 2012
Hired in late February to take over the Stampeders’ defensive co-ordinator, Rick Campbell acted quickly to, well, co-ordinate.
“In the off-season,” said Campbell on Sunday, “we were trying to develop a rapport with the coaches because we were all thrown together and that’s worked out really well. The coaches on the defensive side of the ball get along real well. We’ve made an effort to do things in football and outside of football just to get to know each other so that we work well together during the season.”
One of his assistants is DeVone Claybrooks, who went from Stamps player to defensive line coach during the off-season.
“I’ve had a few guys who played for me and ended making the transition right away to the coaching staff,” he said. “I can just tell by their personality traits that they were going to be good at it. DeVone was a guy that I knew, after hanging out with him for a couple of days, that he gets the big picture and he knows how the whole football thing works. He’s smart enough to understand that he does have some friends because he played with him but that he’s a coach now and there’s a separation there.”
Campbell inherits a defensive unit that includes no fewer than 24 players who were with the club in 2011.
“As far as the veteran players here,” he said, “I have a great amount of respect for the veterans because they’ve won a lot of games here and they’ve done a lot of good things. Our goal as coaches was to take the good things and try to make them better. You’ve got to be smart enough to know the things that need to be fixed and fix those. The things that don’t need changing? Don’t change them just for the sake of change.”
Campbell is entering his 14th season as a CFL coach and returns for a second tour of duty in Calgary, having previously served on the Stamps staff in 2010.
One of his priorities in camp is to find the right home for each member of the defence, particularly the weak-side linebacker/defensive end or strong-sider linebacker/defensive back tweeners.
“We try to do as much homework as we can in the off-season because I’m a big believer in putting guys in a spot and letting them get good at it,” he said. “So what we’re trying to do in training camp is get guys where we think they should be and then we’ll adjust as we need to. But I don’t like a ton of experimenting out there.”
A week into camp, the defensive boss is happy with his squad’s progress.
“It’s been good,” he commented. “It’s gone how I thought it would because I know there are a lot of good people and a lot of good football players. I think it’s gone well. The key for us is that we have to keep getting better each day and each week. That’s the difference between the teams that are successful and not. That’s going to be our challenge — to make sure that constant improvement happens.”
The way John Hufnagel sees it, the performance was horrible.
“No, no,” he said with a shake of the head after Sunday afternoon’s mock game/scrimmage at McMahon Stadium. “That’s one thing that I’m sorry I put the fans through.”
But enough about the pre-game anthem as sung by the rookie coaches.
As for Sunday’s actual football activities, the boss was reasonably pleased with the dress rehearsal, complete with a live clock and officials.
“We put the team in different situations,” he said, “which is all a learning experience. It was a worthwhile day.
“Firstly, (the coaches learned) that we’ve got a long way to go to become the football team we want to become. But it was a good start. We had a lot of young guys out there. We need to play with more skill. That’s one thing. We had opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on offensively. But we did our motions right, the reads by the quarterbacks were mostly good and defensively, they did some nice things out there and we got a turnover or two.”
While the rain held off — something Coach Huff earlier in the week had promised the media would happen despite the gloomy forecast — a strong wind blew around the stadium and made things difficult for the quarterbacks.
“When you see a punt go 90 yards,” said Hufnagel, “you know it’s hard to judge how hard to throw the football.”
The Stampeders added DB David Pittman and DB Jamar Wall.
The Stampeders released DB Antareis Bryan and P Scott Crough.
Non-import offensive lineman Jon Gott (head), import offensive lineman Edwin Harrison (hamstring), import linebacker Demetrice Morley (knee), non-import defensive lineman Junior Turner (hamstring), and import offensive lineman Tony Washington (hip) missed today’s morning practice.
The Stamps are on the field for one session on Monday, June 11. Practice runs from 4:25 p.m. to 6:05 p.m.
June 10, 2012
Our subject today is Eric Fraser, a third-year product from Central Michigan who is looking to lock up the starting safety job at training camp.
Yeah, it’s been a topic of my tweeting. I think it’s cookies every three days, which is completely unacceptable. I got a tweet from a buddy up in Edmonton and they’re getting the peanut butter-cup cheesecake. So I’m definitely not happy with the fruit salad selection every day.
Ah, me and Ralph . . . I like Ralph. We have a good time. We go back and forth on Twitter a little bit sometimes (Fraser at @efraser007 and Ralph at @Ralph_Dog) but he’s good. A dog is a man’s best friend.
I’m good now. I just kind of worked through it. The day I came back — on Wednesday — it got shortened a little bit because of the lightning and that kind of helped me with just getting one light day in. On Thursday, I went hard and I’ve been feeling good ever since.
That’s kind of the way that I felt last year even during the season. I felt like I wanted to take that job and that’s the way I approached it week to week. To have Huff say that in the off-season, that’s just support in my corner. I feel good playing back there, I feel like I anticipate plays well and I’m smart and I know the defence. I’d be disappointed if that’s not how things turned out.
You know what? I think we’re doing really good. The defence is a little bit different than it was last year but the guys know it all now. Now we’re getting to the point where we’re really comfortable with all the calls and what we’re doing so we can start working on some other stuff like our disguises and trying to play with the quarterback a little bit and make things tough for the other team during the year.
June 10, 2012
The Stampeders family grew a little this week as linebacker Marc Calixte and his wife Melissa welcomed the birth of daughter Danica on Thursday. Danica was born weighing six pounds, nine ounces.
Danica is the third child of Marc and Melissa, who are also parents to four-year-old son Bradley and two-year-old daughter Alissa.
Calixte is expected to return to Calgary and join his Stampeders teammates this coming week.
June 9, 2012
Today we chat with offensive lineman Dimitri Tsoumpas, a CFL all-star going into his fifth season with the Red and White.
1.What are your thoughts on training camp so far?
Camp so far has been good. Everything is going real smoothly. We have a new o-line coach in Mike Gibson and I’m really enjoying everything he’s offering us. He’s a very technical guy and has us flying out of the chutes. I really like that he makes sure we're keeping things at a high pace.
2. Is it an adjustment having a new position coach?
Things with Mike so far have been great. His system is very aggressive and his style of play is everything that I love to play. This is my first time working with him but I really like everything that he preaches.
3.Does it seem odd being only 26 years old and yet you have the most seniority on the Stamps o-line?
I don’t really feel overly senior. This is football and it’s a young crowd. The guys that get to play 10 years are few and far between. I’m here with a handful of guys who were here in 2008 when we won the Grey Cup. Each year you get to play the game is a blessing, and I hope I can play as long as I can with many more Grey Cups.
4.How much potential do you this o-line group has?
This o-line has tons of potential. Now that we have the new scheme going and a few new ideas, I really think the sky is the limit and just can’t wait to get going.
5. What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
I think we have come up short the last couple years but thankfully, we have a good core group of guys who have been here for awhile. We know what it takes and we hope to go all the way and make a huge push for a championship this season. It’s the 100th Grey Cup, it’s a huge opportunity and Toronto is where we want to be at the end of the season.
During the morning session, receiver Arjei Franklin did a full stretch to make a diving catch of a Drew Tate throw.
Import defensive back Antareis Bryan (hamstring), non-import punter Scott Crough (back), non-import offensive lineman Jon Gott (head), import offensive lineman Edwin Harrison (hamstring), import linebacker Demetrice Morley (knee), non-import defensive lineman Junior Turner (hamstring), non-import defensive lineman Jordan Spence (foot) and import offensive lineman Tony Washington (hip) missed today’s practices.
Import receiver Maurice Price suffered an ankle injury during the morning practice and is out six to eight weeks.
The Stamps are on the field for two sessions on Sunday, June 10. Morning practice runs from 9:05 to 11 a.m. The Stamps will then hold the Red and White scrimmage starting at 4 p.m.
June 8, 2012
When Pete Costanza took over as Calgary’s receivers coach in 2008, Nik Lewis and Ken-Yon Rambo were already here. Jabari Arthur arrived partway through the season and all four were part of that year’s Grey Cup-championship squad.
In 2009, Romby Bryant and Arjei Franklin arrived in a deal with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. When Costanza looks at his crop of pass-catchers at the current training camp, all five of those familiar faces are looking back at him.
“The great thing about them,” he said, “is they have a very good base understanding of the offence so each year it’s to try and build their understanding, to make them more conscious of the little things in the offence and polish up what we’re doing there so that they have an even better understanding of it.
“Then you try and make them better football players through their route-running and blocking and technique work. With them, it’s more building of what they’ve already laid as their foundation and getting better.”
In addition to the Calgary mainstays, CFL veterans Chris Bauman (Hamilton and Edmonton) and Marquay McDaniel (Hamilton) are also in camp along with third-year Stamp Landan Talley.
Then there’s kids such as Canadians Johnny Forzani (entering his third season but still only 23) and Anthony Parker (a 22-year-old sophomore).
“With the young guys,” said Costanza, “it’s building the foundation so they can have a chance to make the football team and then eventually become veterans and continue to build on what they have.
“With Johnny and Anthony, when they’ve had their chance to play, they’ve taken great advantage of their opportunities and they’ve gone out there and made plays. They’re at a stage where they’re learning and they’re getting better. They have to start going from a role player to start being more of an every-down contributor.”
Costanza is happy with the enthusiasm shown by his players, even the ones who have been attending camp for as long as a decade.
“Rambo loves playing football,” he said. “That’s what he’s been doing his whole life and he’s got a passion for it. If you know him, he’s an intense guy but a happy guy. Same thing with Jabari.
“Nik’s got a whole different outlook on things. He’s out here trying to help and be a teacher to the young guys. I think the fun part for Nik is that he wants to play as long as he can and be known as one of the Stampeders greats. He’s got that whole enthusiasm of being in the Red and White and being known as one of the best who ever played in this uniform.”
June 8, 2012
Friday morning at Stampeders training camp was noteworthy for a couple of reasons.
For starters, Day 6 of camp comes exactly one week before the Stamps make their 2012 pre-season debut with a match against the Edmonton Eskimos at McMahon Stadium.
(Call the Ticket Office at 403-289-0258 to secure your seats)
Secondly, the team went through a so-called walkthrough practice, a session run at less intense pace than a standard workout.
“I try to have this type of practice every other day just to hopefully save their legs a little bit from the grind,” remarked head coach and general manager John Hufnagel.
The plan was to return to a standard practice for the Friday-afternoon session.
In anticipation of next week’s pre-season opener, the Stamps will have a mock game/scrimmage on Sunday afternoon at McMahon. It won’t quite be the real thing but there’ll be enough trappings of a genuine game — officials, a running clock, etc. — to give newcomers a taste of the CFL game.
“We want to see them in a little bit of a dress rehearsal for a pre-season game and put them in different situations . . . so that they understand the nuances of the rules of the game,” said Hufnagel.
The Stamps received some good news at Friday morning's practice as offensive lineman J'Micheal Deane and running back Matt Walter both returned to the field after missing some time with injuries.
Import defensive back Antareis Bryan (hamstring), non-import offensive lineman JonGott (head), import offensive lineman Edwin Harrison (hamstring), import linebacker Demetrice Morley (knee), non-import defensive lineman Junior Turner (hamstring), non-import defensive lineman Jordan Spence (foot), import defensive back Brent Vinson (ankle), non-import offensive lineman Spencer Wilson (calf) missed both practices.
Non-import punter Scott Crough (back) missed the afternoon practice.
The Stamps are on the field for two sessions on Saturday, June 9. Practices run from 9:05 to 11 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. to 5:55 p.m.
June 7, 2012
Today we check in with receiver Romby Bryant, who leads the Stamps with 20 touchdown receptions over the past two seasons. For reasons that will become clear later in this segment, we should point out that Bryant is a native of Oklahoma City.
It’s going good so far. The weather’s been good other than yesterday, so I’m enjoying it. I’m just trying to get my legs back up underneath me.
Just to get better every day. That’s what you’re here for. Get working with the team and make sure the team is running on all cylinders
He’s a good veteran guy. He’s a good quarterback and I think we can win with him. There’s no dropoff is the way I see it.
I’m glad! They represent my city so I’ve got to rep them in Canada. I’m loving it. We hope to be NBA champs in about four more games.
I like the way they stack up. If we play Boston, they’re a bunch of older guys so we’ve got the advantage on that. If we play Miami, they don’t have a bench. All they’ve got is D-Wade and LeBron and sometimes Bosh. We’ve got the bench so I think we match up well against them. It’s win-win the way I see it.
June 7, 2012
This is Drew Tate’s fourth training camp with the Stampeders, and yet he is often referred to as “the new quarterback.”
An odd situation, but somewhat understandable given the fact that it’s the first time in his Stamps career he goes into a season at the top of the team’s preliminary depth chart.
“He’s doing well,” said head coach and general manager John Hufnagel. “As with every training camp, you have to reinvent almost but he’s doing a good job.
“Both he and Kevin (Glenn) are quarterbacks who understand what (offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson) and the offence are trying to accomplish and they’re working through the kinks and working through the new receivers making mistakes, but I’m pleased at this time.”
Tate was the Stamps’ short-yardage quarterback in recent seasons and he started the final four games of the 2011 season, but now he faces the potential challenge of holding up over the course of an 18-game schedule.
“I think the only way you can do that,” said Hufnagel, “is by getting as strong as you can and maybe concentrating a little bit more on your strength program so that your body can take some of the wear and tear hits that will occur throughout the 18-game schedule.”
After a rain-shortened single practice on Wednesday, the two-a-day routine resumed for Thursday’s fifth day of main camp. The Stamps’ offensive performance in the morning session left the boss wanting.
“A little bit too slow and too sloppy,” said Hufnagel. “I need to get the offence out of the huddle and get them to the line of scrimmage and get the play called and get the ball snapped and get going.
“We need to pick up the tempo a little bit, but a lot of things have been thrown at them and they’re working hard to try and get things right. Hopefully, we’ll come out this afternoon and have a better one.”
Import defensive back Antareis Bryan (hamstring), non-import offensive lineman J’Micheal Deane (calf), non-import offensive lineman Jon Gott (head), import offensive lineman Edwin Harrison (hamstring), import linebacker Demetrice Morley (knee), non-import defensive lineman Junior Turner (hamstring) and non-import running back Matt Walter (hamstring) missed today’s practices.
Non-import defensive lineman Jordan Spence (foot) left the morning practice early and did not return for the second session.
The Stamps are on the field for two sessions on Friday, June 8. Practices run from 9:05 to 11 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. to 6 p.m.
June 7, 2012
Last year, assistant coach Brent Monson was working with the Stampeders defensive linemen.
This year, he’s on the other side of the ball as the running backs coach and finds himself working with a set of very talented ballcarriers, highlighted by new starter Jon Cornish.
The transition has been an adjustment but Monson says his experience from last season has been invaluable. He also credits offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson with providing the necessary guidance.
“Dave is a real treat to work with,” said Monson. “He’s very informative and constantly breaks things down.”
Monson also raves about Dickenson’s work ethic: “Dave is always looking for ways to make our offence better.”
Cornish has garnered most of the headlines but Monson is quick to point out his stable of running backs has multiple options including sophomore LaMarcus Coker and rookies Matt Walter and Bryson Tucker.
“We have a really good group of running backs,” he said. “Jon is one option but we have many very skilled backs who can be used in a number of situations to help this team succeed.”
In addition to the tailbacks, Monson works with a fullback brigade that features vets Rob Cote and Tim St. Pierre.
According to Monson, camp so far has been very intense.
“Camp has been very competitive and we have a number of backs who can be very dangerous with the ball,” he said. “I’ve liked what I’ve seen from our guys so far but I’m looking forward to getting closer to the season and watching these guys turn it up another notch.”
June 7, 2012
Justin Phillips admits the phone call informing him he had been selected for Wilfrid Laurier University’s Golden Hawk Hall of Fame caught him off guard.
“Peter Baxter, the athletics director, gave me a call right before camp to let me know about it,” said the defensive lineman, who’s heading into his sixth season with the Stampeders. “I was honoured and a little bit surprised. It’s a really cool thing. To play four years at college and to be there with all your boys and make a lifetime of memories and then to be honoured like that, it’s a pretty special thing.”
Phillips earned all-conference and all-Canadian honours as a member of the Golden Hawks and was part of Laurier’s 2005 Vanier Cup-winning squad as well as two Ontario championship teams.
“I was kind of lucky to play on such good teams at Laurier,” he said. “All my teammates were so good and we won so many games, it helped me get a little more recognition. I thank my teammates for helping me achieve this award.”
Phillips still has many fond memories of his time at the Waterloo, Ont., school.
“The main thing I remember is how pumped up I was every game running out of the tunnel,” he said. “At Laurier, they have this cool tunnel and you bang the hawk on the door and you bang the picture on the wall and all the fans are lined up and you run through a tunnel. The rush you get running through that tunnel with all of your peers with you, it was a pretty special feeling.
“Coach Gary Jeffries would always end his pre-game speech with, ‘I love you, God bless you, now let’s go get ’em.’ Then everyone would run out of the tunnel. I’ll always remember those words and then running out of the tunnel. It was a cool experience.”
The only negative note about the Hall of Fame honour is that the induction ceremonies will take place on Sept. 28, the same night the Stampeders will be taking on the Edmonton Eskimos at McMahon Stadium.
“I’m going to have to ask the video guys to help me out with putting something together for the ceremony,” said Phillips. “I won’t be there in person but I’ll be there in spirit.”
June 6, 2012
The rain came down gently at first, as delicate as a butterfly landing on a buttercup.
Then the water pressure got cranked up, with huge drops bunched closely together pounding the field at McMahon Stadium.
Still, the Stampeders continued with their training camp session on Wednesday morning.
However, when lightning flashed and thunder boomed, the players were immediately sent to the safety of the locker-room.
“It’s unfortunate,” said head coach and general manager John Hufnagel afterwards in the nice, dry clubhouse, “because we were having a lively practice going. The guys were working hard and getting a good practice in.
“Mother Nature got us off the field a little early but we did get some good work done.”
The lively workout included a brief wrestling match between a couple of players, with no damage done.
“You want intensity and like I’ve always said, you’d rather have the problems of toning things down than always consistently trying to turn it up,” said Hufnagel, who traditionally has always been quick to discipline players if a brief shoving match escalates into something more serious. “We did have a lively practice this morning and that was good to see. We need to get better and working hard and competing hard against each other will help us to get better."
Wednesday, by the way, marked long-snapper Randy Chevrier's 36th birthday. Thanks to the off-season trade of quarterback Henry Burris, the Montreal native and 10-year veteran is now the oldest player on the Stamps roster.
Non-import defensive lineman Brian Bulcke (groin), import defensive back Antareis Bryan (hamstring), import defensive back Tim Clark (heart palpitations), non-import offensive lineman J’Micheal Deane (calf), non-import offensive lineman Jon Gott (head), import offensive lineman Edwin Harrison (hamstring), import defensive lineman Charleston Hughes (personal), non-import defensive lineman Justin Phillips (foot), non-import defensive lineman Junior Turner (hamstring) and non-import running back Matt Walter (hamstring) missed today’s practice.
The Stamps are on the field for one session on Thursday, June 7. Practices run from 9:05 to 11 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. to 6 p.m.
June 5, 2012
For obvious reasons, the quarterbacking corps is always the subject of much fan and media fascination.
The position has been particularly intriguing at this year’s Stamps training camp as the group of slingers includes a first-time starter, a decorated veteran newcomer, a Canadian and a raw rookie.
The decorated veteran in question is 12th-year CFLer Kevin Glenn, who joined the Red and White in an off-season deal with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. While it’s assumed that the No. 1 job is Drew Tate’s to lose, Glenn certainly gives John Hufnagel a very viable alternative.
“I’ve liked what I’ve seen,” said the Stamps head coach and general manager on Tuesday. “The way that he’s approaching it is that he’s going to get as good as he can with this offence and play as well as he can and make it a hard decision each and every week on who the quarterback is. He understands the situation and I know that he’s a great teammate. If and when he gets on the field, he’ll be a great player for us.”
Though this is his first year with the Stamps, Glenn is hardly a stranger to his new teammates, particularly in the receiving corps. Romby Bryant and Arjei Franklin caught Glenn passes when the pivot was a member of the Blue Bombers while Marquay McDaniel and Chris Bauman were teammates in Hamilton.
“The CFL is a small fraternity,” noted Hufnagel, “and most players know each other — especially a person like Kevin, who’s been in the league for as many years as he has and has played with the amount of teams that he has. There are players on this team who were teammates with Kevin before, which makes that transition a lot easier.”
Meanwhile, Brad Sinopoli — the only Canadian pivot in the CFL a year ago — is back for a second season.
“I see that he has improved his accuracy, which is something that I was hoping to see and that he knew that I was concerned about,” said Hufnagel. “He’s doing a good job right now. It shows that he’s been here for a year. He’s a lot more comfortable and confident out on the field.”
Slotback Nik Lewis showed off his quarterbacking skills during the afternoon session, heaving a ball downfield to Romby Bryant, who had stealthily slipped behind the secondary.
Import defensive back Antareis Bryan (hamstring), import defensive back Tim Clark (heart palpitations), non-import offensive lineman J’Micheal Deane (calf), non-import defensive back Eric Fraser (back), non-import offensive lineman Jon Gott (head), import offensive lineman Edwin Harrison (hamstring), import defensive lineman Charleston Hughes (personal), non-import defensive lineman Justin Phillips (foot), non-import defensive lineman Junior Turner (hamstring) and non-import running back Matt Walter (hamstring) missed both practices.
The Stamps are on the field for one session on Wednesday, June 6. Practice runs from 9:05 to 11 a.m.
June 5, 2012
A year ago, Mike Gibson was coaching the Stampeders’ running backs. Now he’s handling the offensive linemen, the big galoots who open the holes for the ballcarriers.
“Coaching is coaching,” said Gibson. “It’s just like teaching a subject at a high school. Sometimes, the math teacher may not be there and you have to go cover for him, so you have to do the best you can. You just try and do the fundamentals.”
This is hardly uncharted territory for Gibson — his first full-time CFL job was as Winnipeg’s offensive line coach and he later filled the same role in Saskatchewan.
He has a Grey Cup ring (with the Riders in 2007) and has also been an offensive coordinator and an assistant head coach in the CFL.
Gibson takes over o-line coaching duties from Kris Sweet, who held the job for five years.
“Kris and I are a lot alike in the things we believe in,” Gibson said. “My terminology and my way of expressing it just might be a little bit different, so we just have to get on the same page from a communication standpoint. That’s really all it boils down to.”
It’s been an interesting training camp to date for Gibson. For starters, during the rookie portion of camp, Gibson had only two true rookies to work with — import Na’Shan Goddard and 2012 draft pick Mike Filer.
“Good young kids,” said Gibson. “Talented kids. We’re in a fortunate position where we’ve got some depth and we have lots of competition. They say the cream always rises to the top, so what my job is to get them all on the same page as far as knowing what to do and then let their ability take over, which then lets us make decisions.”
While the offensive line often features at least one grizzled vet, the Stamps have a relatively young unit with fifth-year man Dimitri Tsoumpas being the most senior member.
“A lot of those young guys had to play early,” said Gibson. “You’d like to bring them along slowly (earlier in their career) but now you’re reaping the benefit. They’ve only been in the league for four or five years but some of them have started for three or four years, so they’ve got a lot of experience for young guys.”
The coach is pleased with what he’s seen from the unit so far.
“I like the group,” he said. “We have some work to do but I like the group. Like I said, they’ve been well coached in the past, they come to work every day and if they continue with their attitude and we can all get on the same page — we say we want to see the game through one set of eyes. If we can get to that point, we’ll be all right.”
June 5, 2012
Today we visit with third-year offensive lineman Edwin Harrison, who had a very active off-season.
No one has called me Stanley yet but coach Gibson has been calling Stanley Edwin. We’ve lot a lot of new guys so everyone is getting used to one another, we mix up each other’s names from time to time, but that’s to be expected.
It feels awesome! For those that don’t know, I did it to honour my grandfather who played up here. He played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before passing away tragically in a plane crash. I really wanted to do it in memory of him and also for my foundation that I’ve started (the 62’s Blocking for the Blind, see below)
It really is indescribable how much more comfortable I feel compared to last year’s camp. I really am a lot happier this year. It’s been great just being up here with the guys. After not seeing them for six months, it’s really something that you take for granted. Being around your teammates and roommates is something you really miss when you’re away. My injury showed me that every opportunity you get from football should be cherished.
Married life after the wedding has been awesome! Now that some time has passed, it’s like we’re back to the way things were when we were dating. Leading up to the wedding. my wife and I were both very stressed and did not really have a lot of time to spend with each other. Between the wedding and the foundation, we were both so busy. Thankfully, my wife really has been behind the foundation and helped me out as much as possible. She’s a blessing on many levels and I’m very lucky to have her.
The foundation is called 62’s Blocking for the Blind. The idea is to provide opportunities for the blind and the visually impaired. What we hope to create is experiences for the blind and visually impaired that are similar to those with sight. We want to give them the opportunity to play sports, play basketball, play softball, and play football and allow them to get in the best physical shape they can possibly be in. I really think a lot of people with sight take that for granted, with everything from being able to jog or play kickball. I’ve found that the blind really want to have the same experiences as people with sight. The long-term goal is to set up facilities for the blind where they can keep active. The foundation started with my wedding this spring — we asked guests to make donations to the foundation in lieu of gifts and it’s given us a good start. We need all the help we can get. All donations are gratefully accepted. They can be made out to the 62’s Blocking for the Blind and dropped off at McMahon Stadium.
June 4, 2012
As the Stampeders’ new defensive co-ordinator, Rick Campbell is taking a democratic approach to his job.
Sure, Campbell is imposing his defensive philosophy on the Red and White but he’s also soliciting and accepting input from his assistants including defensive backs coach Tony Missick.
“Rick is giving us leeway to coach up and make corrections,” said Missick, who is in his second season as a full-time member of the Stampeders staff after making his Calgary debut as a guest coach in 2010.
A new co-ordinator naturally means there will be some adjustments necessary on the defensive side of the ball, but the overall philosophy doesn’t figure to change too much.
“It’s still football,” pointed out Missick. “There are only so many things you can do in this league and Rick has been around for a while. It’s just different terminology, but the drops and the assignments are still the same. Again, the guys just have to adjust to the different terminology. Rick’s been around and some of the guys have been in his system, so they know exactly what to expect.”
Missick heads up a veteran group that includes eight players with Stampeders experience — including fifth-year men Keon Raymond and Brandon Smith — and a ninth, Andre Clarke, who previously attended camp with Calgary.
“That’s the great part about it,” said Missick. “We have a different D.C. but we have a lot of veteran players, so it’s easy for me and for them to relate to what we did last year. I can explain that it’s the same defence, it’s just a different name. So when I’m talking to those veterans, I can say, ‘This is this from last year but we’re calling it this this year,’ they can say, “OK, coach,’ and they understand it. That makes it a whole lot easier.”
As for the five rookies in Calgary's camp, including 2012 draft choice Keenan MacDougall, Missick has the following advice . . .
“Just be patient and study the playbook,” he said. “If you weren’t athletic, if you didn’t have the capability, if you didn’t have what we’re looking for, you would not be here. So study your playbook, don’t make any mental mistakes and we’ll be OK.”
Plagued by injury problems earlier in his career, receiver Jabari Arthur had a breakthrough in 2011 with career highs in receptions (28) and receiving yards (372) in addition to his first career touchdown.
So far in camp, the Montrealer is apparently intent on raising the bar even higher.
After making the catch of the day on the first day of camp, Arthur one-upped himself on Monday by reaching over his head with one hand to haul in a Kevin Glenn bomb.
“Jabari has made some excellent plays over the last two days,” noted head coach and general manager John Hufnagel afterwards. “He’s running well and catching the ball well. He made some big plays for us last year and I expect that to continue.”
If Arthur doesn't get credit for the daily honour, it should probably go to interior defensive lineman Michael Stover, who drew whoops and hollers from his defensive colleagues after making an interception in the afternoon session.
The Stamps learned Tuesday that rookie defensive lineman Jadon Wagner suffered a torn patella tendon during Sunday’s practice and needs surgery.
“I’m sure he’s devastated,” Hufnagel told the media after Tuesday morning’s practice. “That’s the (bad) side of our sport that we play. Hopefully, he has a quick recovery and a full rehab on the knee.”
Wagner, a Lethbridge product, was acquired last season in a trade with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last season. He completed his collegiate career at Brigham Young in 2011.
Import defensive back Antareis Bryan (hamstring), non-import offensive lineman J’Micheal Deane (calf), non-import defensive back Eric Fraser (back), import offensive lineman Edwin Harrison (hamstring), non-import defensive lineman Junior Turner (hamstring) and non-import running back Matt Walter (hamstring) missed both practices.
Import defensive lineman Kevin Dixon (knee) and non-import defensive lineman Jadon Wagner (knee) will require surgery.
Non-import offensive lineman Jon Gott (head) missed the afternoon practice.
The Stamps are on the field for two sessions on Tuesday, June 5. Practices run from 9:05 to 11 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. to 6 p.m.
June 3, 2012
From the oldest (long-snapper Randy Chevrier, who’ll turn 36 on Wednesday) to the youngest (19-year-old non-roster player Gregg Hannah), they were there.
From the biggest (6-foot-8 offensive lineman John Bender) to the smallest (five-foot-six kick-returner/receiver Larry Taylor), they were there.
From the guy halfway around the world (Australian punter Scott Crough) to the guys from down the street (Calgarians such as Mark Dewit, Johnny Forzani and Matt Walter), they were there.
From No. 0 (defensive back Quincy Butler) to No. 99 (defensive lineman Corey Mace), they were there.
Under beautiful sunny skies Sunday morning at McMahon Stadium, the Calgary Stampeders’ main camp officially got under way.
The first session left head coach and general manager John Hufnagel in a good mood.
“I enjoyed the morning,” Hufnagel told the media after the initial workout. “I thought it was a good practice. We were sharp and I like how the guys competed. We completed some passes and I like what all the quarterbacks did. They have a good understanding of what’s going on. And our receivers and DBs had great competition. It was good.”
Of the 84 players on the training camp roster, no fewer than 51 have previous experience with the Stampeders including a core group of 13 players who are entering their fifth season or more with Calgary — Marc Calixte, Nik Lewis, Chevrier, Ken-Yon Rambo, Rob Cote, Jon Cornish, Dimitri Tsoumpas, Jabari Arthur, Keon Raymond, Juwan Simpson, Brandon Smith, Justin Phillips and Charleston Hughes.
Speaking of Lewis, the start of camp coincided with the ninth-year veteran slotback’s 30th birthday.
Jabari Arthur's acrobatic catch during the morning practice on a pass from Drew Tate.
Non-import offensive lineman J’Micheal Deane (calf) missed both practices.
Import defensive lineman Kevin Dixon (knee), non-import defensive back Eric Fraser (back), non-import defensive lineman Junior Turner (hamstring) and non-import running back Matt Walter (hamstring) missed the afternoon session.
Non-import defensive lineman Jadon Wagner (knee) left the afternoon session early.
The Stamps are on the field for two sessions on Monday, June 4. Practices run from 9:05 to 11 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. to 6 p.m.
June 3, 2012
Five questions with the Stampeders' new man under centre.
My approach to training camp was different this year — especially compared to my first year in 2009 when I was just trying to make the team, then the next year I was competing for the backup position, then last year I was just trying to keep my place as the backup. This year definitely is different. It’s a good feeling though and I feel like I’ve been preparing mentally and physically for this. Hopefully, it all pays off.
This year at camp, I want to make sure the tempo with our offence is high, make sure were not turning the ball over and that I’m using my feet when I have to.
Kevin Glenn is awesome! He’s absolutely phenomenal. I’ve always thought he was one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the league. Having him here is going to be a blessing for all of us. Having the chance to speak with him, you realize quickly he’s a very smart guy, on and off the field. He really brings a lot to the team. It’s been lots of fun getting to know him and work with him. I guarantee he’s going to play in a lot of situations this year and he’s going to play great.
Bo’s great. He’s very knowledgeable, he asks a lot of questions. That’s how I was, so were always talking and just trying to be on the same page. I’m not trying to keep secrets from him at all. I know no one in the organization is about that. We’re all on the same team; we’re all trying to win. I just try and help him and Brad (Sinopoli) out as much as I can.
Win the Grey Cup. That’s it.
June 1, 2012
Gregg Hannah has dreamed about participating in the Calgary Stampeders training camp, but in his mind the ETA for his big moment was 2014 or 2015.
Right now will suit him just fine, however.
“It’s pretty awesome,” the 19-year-old Calgary Colts offensive lineman said after making his Stamps rookie camp debut on Friday morning at McMahon Stadium. “I thought it was going to happen, but not for a long time. Maybe when I was 22 or 23. But I guess it’s even better now.”
The Stamps needed an extra body on the offensive line when J’Micheal Deane, a second-year player who was permitted to take part in the rookie camp as he completed rehab from the broken leg that ended his rookie season, suffered a minor calf injury on Thursday.
“I was sitting at home and Coach (John) Stevens called me and said that someone went down with an injury,” said Hannah. “They asked if I was busy and I’m not, so I figured what an opportunity for me to come out here. It’s pretty fun.”
Hannah is soaking in as much information as he can from his one-on-one time with offensive line coach Mike Gibson.
“I’m hoping I can learn a lot that I can take back to the Colts,” he said. “To improve my game so that I can come back here and maybe make a good impression when I’m a little bit older and have a shot at making the team, hopefully.”
The cherry on the sundae for Hannah’s camp experience is that the rookies are headed to Medicine Hat on Saturday for KidSport Day, a football clinic for youngsters. Medicine Hat just happens to be Hannah’s hometown.
“I was pretty excited when they told me about that,” grinned Hannah, who now lives in Calgary. “I’ll get to see my mom and my little brother. I haven’t seen them in a little while. I’m really excited about the whole day.”
June 1, 2012
The rookies apparently learned their Day 1 lessons well.
On the second day of the Stampeders’ rookie camp, head coach and general manager John Hufnagel expressed his satisfaction about the level of improvement.
“We got a little bit better this morning,” Hufnagel said to the media after the moning practice. “Offensively, we’ve got a little bit more knowledge with the playbook and defensively, we’re working hard.
“Until we get into a little bit more team situations, these are just learn-and-teach type of practices. We don’t really have enough guys to get the competition level high but we’re doing what we need to do to prepare the young players for the veterans on Sunday morning.”
Hufnagel, who took over the Stampeders in 2008, says this is the fewest rookies he’s had in this portion of camp.
“Between six to 10 (fewer players),” he said. “We don’t have a whole lot of receivers or offensive linemen. On the defensive side, we do have plenty.”
While most rookies are still getting their bearings, running back Matt Walter is very comfortable at McMahon. Not only did he play in the stadium as a member of the University of Calgary Dinos, he attended Stamps camp a year ago before returning to school for his final season.
“I’m expecting great things from Matt,” said Hufnagel. “It’s too early to say how much he’s progressed from last year to this year. When we put some pads on and we do a little bit of hitting and really get into the flow of things during regular training camp, that’s when the evidence is going to come out.”
June 1, 2012
On Day 2 of rookie camp, we caught up with defensive lineman Ameet Pall, who was the Stamps’ first-round selection in the 2012 CFL Canadian Draft.
So far, I’ve really noticed how much higher the intensity is, even though it’s a shorter practice. Right away, I noticed there are so many more plays compared to college. You really have to pick up stuff quickly and you do a lot more in a shorter period of time. Everything is just ramped up to another level compared to college.
Life in camp really becomes a mental game moreso than a physical game. You wake up in the morning thinking that you won’t come back to your bed until 10-11 p.m. after two-a-days and meetings all day. I’m staying with two other guys, a linebacker and an o-line man, and we all get along real good. As far as physical, you really have to try and take care of your body the right way by eating the right stuff, stretching, etc. You learn to get through it. It’s a grind at first.
DeVone told me as soon as I found out I was drafted. He told me it was his old number and obviously I was very excited and extremely grateful. Once I found out how established he was a player in the NFL and the CFL, it really became a real honour to wear his number. Today, he was showing us bag drills and he was bobbing and weaving like he could still play. Wearing his number brings a lot of pressure along with being a first round draft pick and I really want to do well. DeVone has really taken me under his wing and is showing me a lot. Even off the field before practice, he’s showing me ways to help me get better.
I took a natural liking to football early on in Quebec, loved it in high school, had the opportunity to play at Vanier and then eventually Wofford.
South Carolina was very different compared to Montreal. As far as football goes, we had a great coaching staff, great players and everyone got along really well. It was really fun to go to college at Wofford, especially once you got older and more accustomed to the structure of things. The coaches really were great. One season, we went 3-8 and the coaches just hammered us. They were really hard on us but the next season, we came back and won the conference. It was a great accomplishment for a small school like us.
May 31, 2012
Stampeders rookie camp opened Thursday morning at McMahon Stadium under an overcast sky and comfortable temperatures (but, thankfully, no precipitation).
Yes, folks, the process of preparing for the 2012 Canadian Football League season is officially under way.
The rookies were put through their paces by fifth-year head coach and general manager John Hufnagel and his staff.
“I was pleased,” Hufnagel reported to the media after the initial workout. “They were athletic and we got some things accomplished.”
The veterans do not report for duty until Sunday so when the rookies were broken up into position groups on Thursday, certain drills became problematic. For instance, the only freshman bodies for offensive line coach Mike Gibson to work with at the moment are Mike Filer and Na’Shan Goddard.
“We don’t have a great number out here,” noted Hufnagel, “so we had to adjust practices somewhat. But they got off to a good start and now I want to see how much they retain from one practice to the meeting room to the next practice. It’s all part of the evaluation.”
The rookie crop included five members of Calgary’s 2012 draft class — Filer, defensive linemen Ameet Pall and Jordan Spence, linebacker Wilkerson DeSouza and defensive back Keenan MacDougall. The Stamps also have a pair of non-roster players in camp in Dinos quarterback Eric Dzwilewski and receiver Jimmy Ralph, the younger brother of former Red and White wideout Brett Ralph.
Play of the day: Maurice Price elevated high over a pair of defenders in the afternoon session to make a picturesque catch.
May 31, 2012
Calgary native and former University of Calgary Dinos star Matt Walter took the time to answer a few questions Thursday between practices on the first day of rookie camp. Though classified as a rookie, Walter did attend last year's Stamps camp before returning for his final season at the U of C.
The first day is always very hectic. It all starts with finding your way with the team and getting the playbook mastered, so much of the first day comes down to preparation. As the day goes on, it really becomes a lot of fun once you're executing and the plays are running smoothly.
Mainly understanding the playbook and building on what I learned last season, that’s the ultimate goal. A lot of preparation needs to be put in place to understand all the concepts and once you have that, it becomes a lot easier to go out and execute. I’m lucky being that I was here last year so I can build on what I learned from last year.
Ultimately, I would like to back up Cornish. From there, I just want to make as many plays as I can on offence and help contribute to this team any way I can. That’s my ultimate goal and if I can get a touchdown or two, I'll be pretty happy.
Of course I think it’s a positive thing. It’s very nice to see that Canadian talent is being given opportunities and succeeding. Its great to see Canadians making the next step and, hopefully, it sets a precedent in future for what’s expected from Canadians. If I can be the next big Canadian some time in the future, then that will be perfect for me.
The U of C program definitely has a place in my heart. I’ve watched it come from the ashes and help build it up to a point where we were winning back-to-back conference championships. I had a great time there and I learned a lot about life both on and off the field from the Dinos. I am very glad I played there but my goal is to make the next step and be a full-time professional football player with the Calgary Stampeders.
May 30, 2012
Ike Charlton, Brett Morgan, Mike Roach and Don Yanowsky will serve as guest coaches during the Calgary Stampeders' upcoming training camp.
Charlton played six seasons in the CFL and retired following the 2010 season with the Montreal Alouettes. He is best remembered for his time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers where Charlton recorded 223 tackles and four quarterback sacks. He appeared in 60 regular-season games and four playoff games including one Grey Cup. Charlton was drafted in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2000 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He left Seattle in 2002 and later went on to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots before joining the Blue Bombers in 2005. Charlton will be working with the defensive backs and his main emphasis will be on the strong-side linebacker position.
Morgan has spent the past six seasons as and offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at high schools in Florida. He is also the president and director of 904 Elite, a football academy in Florida that trains top football players in the region. Morgan was a quarterback at the Providence School of Jacksonville and graduated with a journalism degree from the University of North Florida. Morgan will assist Pete Costanza with the Stamps receivers.
Roach is one of the most decorated coaches in CFL history, having been on the sidelines of CFL teams for 26 seasons. Roach last coached with the BC Lions in 2009 where his defensive line led the CFL with 68 quarterback sacks. Roach had three stints as the Stampeders’ secondary coach, first from 1982-85, then from 1998-2002 (during which time he won two Grey Cups) and finally in 2004. He has also coached in Edmonton – winning a Grey Cup with the Eskimos in 1987 – Ottawa and Winnipeg. Roach will be working with the defensive line.
Yanowsky, who has more than 20 years of collegiate coaching experience, was most recently the tight ends coach at Louisiana State University. Yanowsky spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons as an assistant coach at Boston College, helping the Eagles to a 20-8 record and bowl game appearances in both seasons. Yanowsky has also coached at East Carolina, Arkansas State, Minnesota, Memphis, Utah and his alma mater, Toledo. Yanowsky was a two-year starter at offensive guard for the Toledo Rockets in 1979-80. Yanowsky will work with the Stamps linebackers.
Stamps rookie camp will begin Thursday, May 31 with main camp opening Sunday, June 3 at McMahon Stadium.