Amos, Hayes aim for bigger roles on Stamps defence
DaShaun Amos’ introduction to Canadian football was, by his own admission, a little crazy.
For any American, figuring out the intricacies of the game north of the border can cause your head to spin a little bit.
For Amos, though, it was wilder than most.
The Stampeders signed Amos to their practice roster on Oct. 3 of last year.
On Oct. 13, he was starting at halfback against the B.C. Lions.
Less than two weeks later, he started at boundary corner against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“It was definitely crazy,” Amos said. “First time playing Canadian football. First time out of the (U.S.). A lot of first time things for me.”
On Thursday, Amos was out on the field with the Stampeders’ first-year players for Day 1 of 2019 rookie camp.
The two days of practice are heavy on instruction for incoming players looking to master the three-down game, and that’s something Amos is grateful to have as he attempts to earn a full-time job with the Stamps.
A betting man would probably put his money on Amos sticking around and, quite possibly, beginning the season as a starter at halfback, likely in the spot where Emanuel Davis played last year.
Ever since he arrived in Calgary last fall, there have been whispers that the Stampeders coaching staff was high on Amos’ potential. That he started so quickly after signing — for a first-place team, no less — and was then among the first-players re-signed when the season ended, seems to confirm that.
None of that guarantees anything, of course, the 24-year-old still has to earn his spot, but Amos should be near the top of any ‘who to watch’ list at this year’s training camp.
“The thing about it, even though guys were here last year, they missed the foundation,” said Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson. “They weren’t here for camp. Camp (provides) those building blocks.
“The expectation is go compete. Him and Gump (Hayes) both, because they were here last year, I think they’re ahead slightly … but you’re still going to play the best guys.”
Like Amos, Hayes was one of the few players participating at Thursday’s rookie camp who spent time with the Stampeders last season. While Amos signed in October, Hayes spent the entire season on the practice roster.
With Ciante Evans not back this year, though, Hayes has an opportunity to step into a much bigger role this season.
“I feel like it’s an opportunity. I’m going to come out and compete and hopefully win that starting job,” Hayes said. “This year, I’ve just got a chance to just show the world how versatile (I am) and what I can bring to the game. I’m going to go out there and just do what I do and show a lot of people that I can play this game.”
The Stamps are going to need guys like Hayes and Amos to step up on the defensive side of the ball, because they’re entering training camp without seven of the starters who played last year’s Grey Cup.
Both guys believe that the time they spent learning the CFL game last year has helped prepare them for more responsibility this season.
They’ll be leaning on veterans like Brandon Smith and Jamar Wall, too, and that’s something that Amos said was crucial to the way he was able to adjust so quickly last season.
“The older guys really makes me make that transition from American football to Canadian football,” Amos said. “I really can’t thank them enough. There was a lot thrown at me, trying to pick up the playbook as fast as I could and then ‘Boom’ you’re playing.
“It was fast but the older guys and coaches made sure I was comfortable and knew what to do so I could play fast.”
SALONEN NOT ATTENDING
The Calgary Stampeders were down a man before rookie camp even began.
The Stampeders used their pick in the CFL’s first-ever European draft in April to select Finnish linebacker Roni Salonen and were expecting him in camp.
Shortly before he was set to depart Finland, though, Salonen informed the team that he would not be attending.
“These guys aren’t straight out of college. These guys are 27, 28 (and) possibly have jobs,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “For us, it was unforeseen. He was good to go and then had some issues, something with a tourist visa or something and then had second thoughts about coming and decided not to come.
“it’s just one of those things. It’s unfortunate. We’re going to try to adjust.”