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October 12, 2018

Into The Fire

Go be famous, Amos.

“You cover your man right there,” instructs Josh Bell, post-practice, pointing to an imaginary opponent on an imaginary spot on a deserted field. “You talk to the guy next to you. Ball’s snapped. Receiver runs his route. Ball’s in the air. You out-jump him.

“Interception.”

An exaggerated wink.

“Easy, right?

If his position coach could fully impart one piece of fatherly advice to DaShaun Amos, making his first CFL start for the Stampeders in place of the nicked-up Brandon Smith at DB against B.C. on Saturday at 6 p.m. MT, it’d be this:

“Try to be great, each individual play. Be aggressive. Don’t be timid,” said Bell.

“Why could Michael Jordan make that game-winning jump shot at the buzzer? Because he knew the shot at the buzzer was the same shot he made early in the first quarter.

“No different.

“You be prepared but you don’t over-think.

“You go play.

“It’s what you’ve done.

“It’s what you do.

“It’s who you are.”

Amos may have only been on site for 10 days – having been signed Oct. 3 – but the 24-year-old free-agent signing out of East Carolina finds himself in the whirring blades of the big-game blender tomorrow against the B.C. Lions.

“Smitty is one of those guys who’d play through anything but he’s not right. He’s hurting,” says head coach Dave Dickenson. “The defensive coaches have been high on (Amos). They were really high on him in the off-season. He’s shown well. We want to take a look. And it’ll be a huge challenge.

“You’re going up against a great receiving corps and an experienced quarterback, you don’t really have a lot of foundation to fall back on but he’s a guy we need to see and we just haven’t worked a lot of other players at the position.

“As coaches, we feel like this gives us the best chance of success.”

Saturday’s skirmish, as most do at this time of year, carries huge implications. A Stamps win, combined with a Saskatchewan loss or tie, would clinch first in the West for the Red & White, providing welcome flexibility over the closing three games.

The Leos, meanwhile, find themselves in an ongoing battle to secure a playoff spot.

So, as mentioned above, the first game will be an important one for Amos.

“He’s going to have butterflies,’’ assures Smith. “He’s going to be nervous. But that’s not a bad thing. Being nervous shows you care.

“But they’re just guys, no different than you. You’ve prepared your whole life for this, so enjoy it.

“You have confidence in yourself, the scheme and your teammates around you, everything’ll be all right.”

In his brief time here, the new guy has made a case study of the 11-year vet he’s replacing. And it’d be darn near impossible to find a better role model.

“In meetings, we sit close to each other,’’ says Amos. “In practice, I’m watching him and he’s watching me.

“Any questions I have, I ask him. Any time he sees that I might be guessing or something like that, he’ll bring it up.

“I feel like I’m just a ballplayer. I use my instincts. I have good eyes. They’ve been coaching me up well, adjusting from the American to the Canadian game.

“Everybody here has made me comfortable. They believe in me. Coach Bell told me: Believe in my instincts, believe in my ability, go out there and be myself.”

The prospect of going from 153 games of experience to 0 in a crucial spot in his defensive umbrella doesn’t seem to be excessively gnawing away at coach Bell’s innards.

“The greatest thing our guys on the back end have is the room to make mistakes,’’ he says. “I love for those guys to be aggressive.

“That goes for everybody back there.

“Practice is practice. A game is a different thing. We’ll learn what his identity is, what his make-up is, his mettle, when the game starts.

“But I will say this: He has a particular set of skills to be a superhero in our defensive backfield.”

Strap on a cape in the windswept practice conditions that greeted the Stamps on Friday at McMahon and Amos could’ve literally flown out the stadium, right off the cartoon easel of DC Comics.

Maybe he’ll take flight again Saturday come 6 p.m., even if there’s not a breath of breeze.

“You can’t wear the Stampeder helmet if you can’t do what we do on the back end,’’ says Bell emphatically. “And we’re giving him a helmet.

“He’s gonna make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. But he’s got the chance to make plays, too.

“So make ‘em.”

That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Go be famous, Amos.