The end to the 2019 season left a sour taste for Fraser Sopik.
Missing out on post-season action with an injury definitely wasn’t how he wanted it to go down, and the cancellation of the 2020 campaign had him itching to return to the field.
Now, the wait is over.
“It was a very long wait and I’m so excited to be back,” he said. “I’ve never been hurt like that before but I took the time to get better and now it’s about feeling more comfortable out there and moving on from the injury, which I think I’ve done.
“For me coming into my second year, it’s a big jump – (it is) at any level and I think it’s an important year to develop. I always felt confident and comfortable in what I could do on the field. (Looking back) it was more about adjusting to the next level in my rookie year. I’ve put on a bit of weight since, and adding more strength.
“I never stopped studying the playbook and training.”
With training camp wrapping up, there’s plenty of opportunity for the sophomore to shoulder more responsibility and build off a rookie season that saw him finish with 13 defensive tackles and 10 special-teams stops, while adding two sacks, two forced fumbles and a blocked punt.
The intensity has been high and that fits perfectly with how he approaches the game.
“I always think there’s opportunity no matter what the roster is,” Sopik said. “It’s about earning the respect of your teammates, coaches and people in the league. Not worry too much, do the right things and right plays and you‘ll find a spot on the roster. I know if you do things right, then those opportunities will come and you just have to take advantage of them.
“Competition is always good. For me the big thing as a player is that I am competitive and most of the guys here are the same way. We’re gelling in that sense because we are all here to compete and the high energy guys bring makes practice fun.”
There’s been plenty of changes to the Stamps roster, but one in particular, has been the return of Jameer Thurman, who spent two seasons with the Red and White before attending camp in the NFL and a stint in the XFL.
It’s no secret what Thurman brings to the roster, especially the linebacker corps, and his presence has been a welcomed one.
“He’s one of those guys that earns the respect of every guy in the locker-room,” Sopik said. “He puts in the work as much as anybody, here early, takes care of his body and willing to help out. I can’t say enough good things about him, his play speaks for itself and he’s a leader that people should want to emulate.”
And while there will be no pre-season games this year, Sopik and the rest of the squad have Aug. 7 circled down when they start the new season against the Toronto Argonauts.
A start of a new season means new goals.
“I want to play every single game,” he said. “You earn respect by playing at 100% speed and not taking practice or games off, that’s how I’ve always played. I want to play 14 games this year, 18 every other year and just be available. You do the right things you seize the opportunity and I know I’ve had a solid camp so far, so the opportunities will come.
“This is the organization I’ve always wanted to play for.
“I love this city and very excited to be back.”