June 21, 2018

Finding Another Level

Jameer Thurman isn’t looking to improve in only one or two areas.

“What do I want to elevate?’’ says the second-year outside linebacker, as the Stampeders prepared to make an eastern getaway for Saturday’s 5 p.m. MDT date in Toronto. “Everything.

“My goal right now is to take my game to a whole other level from last season.

“That’s what I expect of myself.

“I want to build off what I did, take that and build momentum from it. But the past is the past. We’re heading into the second week of a new season, a new challenge.

“I’d say I had a pretty good (rookie) year but we didn’t finish.

“If we’d have finished, then I’d have been pleased.

“We, me, still have a lot of work to do. Nothing’s done until we get that ring on our finger.”

In an impressive freshman campaign, Thurman appeared in all 18 regular-season games – including 12 starts- and was credited with 52 tackles, two picks, one sack and a fumble recovery.

He then stepped up his game in the playoffs, making six tackles in the West Final vs. Edmonton and seven more, along with a sack, in the Grey Cup game at Ottawa on Nov. 26.

Thurman and the Stamps will be looking to stay hot Saturday against the Argos after outlasting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 28-14 in Week One.

The defence only surrendered one touchdown to the Tabbies in that win, more than respectable, but the satisfaction maybe didn’t mirror the performance.

“We could’ve done a lot of things better,’’ says the 23-year-old Thurman. “We had the one big play that we gave up, some field-goals that we shouldn’t have … small things that we’re aware of, we’ve addressed, and fixed.

“We should be a better group on D come Saturday.”

One thing’s for sure: No. 56 is apt to be at the heart of it all at BMO Field.

“I mean, he’s doing all the right things,’’ says 10-year Stamp coach Brent Monson, in his sixth season guiding the linebackers. “Everything he did last year was consistent. We’re looking for that same type of consistency this year and taking that next step with understanding offences, which will help him make more plays.”

In facing the Double Blue, defensive attention is always focused on the ageless Ricky Ray, who, at 38 years old, has forgotten more about the quarterback position than most will ever know.

“Against a guy like that,’’ says Monson, “we need to be very, very sound with our eyes. Very aware. As a linebacker, you have to make sure you get the proper depth because he’ll take advantage of whatever little thing you give him.

“The details in coverage are huge playing against a guy like Ricky Ray.”

Thurman maybe doesn’t draw the attention of some individuals at the position with more years, more profile. But those who know best, who matter most, understand what kind of potential is there, how good he can be.

“Thurm wants to be great, wants to be the best at his position’’ says middle linebacker Alex Singleton, the league’s reigning Most Outstanding Defensive Player. “With every meeting, every practice, he’s striving to do that.

“He may not get the love he deserves but he shows us every day. He flies around, makes plays.

“He might not celebrate as much as other guys. Maybe that’s what he needs to draw a bit more publicity. I’ve been working with him on that. He’s gotten better with the celebrations.

“All I know is, it’s awesome having him next to me.”