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May 22, 2019

LAW LEADING THE LINE

Cordarro Law’s birth certificate shows that he’s pushing 31. Still, the man can be forgiven for feeling like the kid whose family packed up the car, set off on vacation and by the time he pulled into the driveway again many of his favourite neighbourhood playmates had moved away.

“I was thinking just that on the plane ride here,’’ confesses Law, with a smile and a soft shake shake of the head. “It hit me, you know: ‘Man, a lot of my boys … gone.’

“A lot.

“Micah gone.

“Davis gone.

“Vaughters gone.

“But we’ve got good young guys in the room. (Mike) Rose. Flo (Folarin Orimolade). Ese (Mrabure). Derek’s back. Junior’s back. And new guys will emerge. They’ve brought a lot of talent in.

“It’ll be different, though, for sure. Especially now, at the start. You walk into the room, you’re used to seeing those guys I mentioned. Micah, we ran together. When you saw Micah, you saw me. And he hasn’t gone far, just a little to the east, but he’s still gone.

“But that’s life, right? Nothing stays the same.”

A Calgary Stampeders defensive brigade that didn’t receive nearly enough wide-spread plaudits for its part in a hardware-winning campaign, a crew that led the loop in a slew of statistical categories including tied for most sacks with a pack-mentality 45, is now, by osmosis and given the business side of the game, undergoing a Joan Rivers-style facelift.

The D-line being a prime example, with only defensive-end Law returning from a steel-trap front four that started the 27-16 Grey Cup conquest of the Ottawa Redblacks at Commonwealth Stadium in late November.

“I’m very excited with the guys we have,’’ says defensive line coach Corey Mace of the off-season shift in direction. “A lot of the younger guys have polished their craft the last couple years. Some that were able to make plays last year will get more opportunity to do just that this year and some guys who haven’t had their shots yet will receive one.

“As well, we have some young, talented cats who are looking to make their mark.

“The horses in the stable have been kinda rotated but that’s football.

“That’s always how it is.”

More troublesome than burly offensive tackles since Law’s return from a two-year NFL stint in San Diego, have been injuries, of course.

A broken leg suffered during 2017 exhibitions cost him an entire campaign and more physical impediments limited him to nine regular-season starts a year ago.

The hopes around McMahon Stadium are that in this season, Law’s sixth as a Stamp, he can re-emerge into that go-to pass rusher, assume the mantle left void by Johnson and Davis, emulate a prodigious 2013 turn in which he finished third across the league in QB body slams, racking up 14.

“Law has done a great job ever since coming back of being a leader,’’ points out Mace. “He’s almost like that second coach, on the field. He took a couple of the younger guys, defensive ends, under his wing last year.

“He’s a natural at that. Generous with his time. Guys want to know how he gets things done, he’s more than open to explaining. A lot of players on other teams, in different situations, they don’t want to teach the young guys because those guys are coming for their job.

“Law’s not that type. He’s a true Stampeder, man. Team first. That’s his mentality.

“The focus for him is to stay healthy. When he does that, he’s still shown to be a heckuva football player.

“We’re definitely going to be looking to him this season.”

The subject of the scrutiny welcomes the intensity of the eyeballing.

“I definitely embrace it,’’ says Law. “All the guys in the room, they know me. I’m the old guy now. Over 30, in football, you’re an OLD guy.

“The young guys, they bring a different kind of energy. And that’s good.

“I’m the old-school guy. Some of the stuff those 22-year-olds like now, I don’t get. But I’m in their corner. I got their backs.

“Veterans got to set the tone. They’ve got to.

“A lot of my old boys are gone. But the new boys are capable of doing great things, too.

“And I want to do my part.

“I gotta step it up. Definitely.

“It’s on me.”