June 24, 2019


Understand, it’s not as if Mike Rose gets a kick out of limbo.

“Don’t get me wrong, I hate waiting,’’ acknowledged the third-year interior defensive lineman, as the Calgary Stampeders re-convened Monday at McMahon Stadium following a bye week.

“Who doesn’t?

“Waiting sucks.

“I mean, I hate waiting for a pizza to be delivered, right?

“But the way I look at it, for two years I was behind the Aaron Donald of the CFL, the greatest defensive tackle playing this game in this country at this time.

“So I had to wait my turn. I had to bide my time.

“That’s the way it works. And that’s OK.

“But I’ve always – always – stayed ready. So that when my number is called, I’ll be ready to go.”

Saturday may be that elusive ‘whenever’ for No. 91.

And if so, nobody can accuse the 26-year-old Rose of not having overpaid his dues.

After all, since being signed as a free agent on May 24, 2018 and slotting in behind the marauding man-mountain that is Micah Johnson at the abrasive heart of the three-down nation’s most defiant defensive front, Rose has seen action in only two regular-season games, one per year.

Well, with Johnson trading in the 403 area code for a 306 and rush ends Ja’Gared Davis and James Vaughters also departing during the winter, the look of the Grey Cup D-line was always going to be a re-modelled affair.

But now, given that Junior Turner’s likely lost for the season following knee surgery, Ese Mrabure’s also nicked up and Folarin Orimolade has been sidelined since the exhibition opener, the juggling has taken on a whole different level.

In an effort to shore up D-line numbers, 30-year-old, seven-year home-brew Jabar Westerman and import Azeem Victor have been added to the mix but their newness likely precludes them from Saturday’s visit by the DeVone Claybrooks-piloted B.C. Lions.

“Our standard is so high in the room that if someone does leave or goes down, we expect the same production out of whoever steps in,’’ says D-line boss Corey Mace.

“We didn’t get the amount of pressure we wanted against Ottawa and the guys are well aware of that. We need to be better.”

Rose hopes to be part of that bounty-hunting, quarterback-harassing resurgence. For study notes, the 6-foot-2, 268-pounder out of NC State has the last two years to draw on.

“A lot of my game gets modelled after Micah’s,’’ admits Rose, graciously. “I try to use the things he did well and put them into my skill set.

“In the end, you’re always your own man but there are things you can pick up from different players. Especially great players.”

That quality of seasoning, says Mace, can’t be anything but beneficial.

“It’s tough for anybody to sit around and watch but if you have to watch, you might as well watch Micah.

“So he got all the same coaching points as Micah did. I’m expecting a big year from Mr. Rose. We had a few conversations in the off-season and he understands the expectations now.

“He’s been real good for us this year so far, all during camp and truthfully I thought he was one of our more consistent guys during the first game against Ottawa.

“I think he’s going to take a step forward every week. You hope they’re big steps, not small ones, but as long as the direction is forward you’re making progress, and it’s all good.”

In endeavouring to even their record following a Week One loss to the Redblacks, the Stamps face an 0-2 Lions’ team that have had a hellishly difficult time setting up a force field around their imported shining star, All-Star QB Mike Reilly.

“Every week,’’ says Mace, “brings new challenges. And Mike Reilly always presents a unique challenge.

“You could tag Reilly on one hundred straight plays and he’s gonna still gonna be ready to throw on the 101st.

“He did get a few extra hits last week but on the flip side we didn’t get any sacks against Ottawa. So we expect to be better getting to the passer and I’m sure their coaches are expecting better protection.”

Rose can’t wait to line up and help his D-line brethren use the 2017 MOP as a human piñata.

“However they blocked Edmonton might not be how they block us,’’ reasons Rose. “Reilly’s a great player, everybody knows that. And he is tough.

“My goal is to go out and get sacks my way.”

There remains three more practice days and a run-through left before Saturday late afternoon tilt at McMahon Stadium.

Not that Mike Rose isn’t used to waiting.

But, well, waiting does suck. Whether for pizza delivery or the chance to dig in and win a starting job.

“I always feel it could be my time,’’ he reasons, with a shrug. “But more to the point, I feel like it’s our time, the D line as a whole.

“We’ve got some great players in our room. Yes, we lost a former all-star and other great players but we’ve got some potential all-stars in there now. (Cordarro) Law’s a former all-star and I don’t see why he can’t be again. Hopefully Big Wigs (Derek Wiggan) is an all-star.

“We all strive to be the best at our position.

“Yeah, I’ve been waiting a while but the whole point is to believe you’ll get that chance, and when it comes you’d better be ready and take it.”