Stamps Notes: Rogers looking healthier in 2019
Even Eric Rogers wasn’t sure if he’d be back.
Right after the Calgary Stampeders won the 2018 Grey Cup, the receiver openly acknowledged that he was contemplating retirement and might not return for another kick at the can.
For the better part of two and a half months, fans hoped and prayed that Rogers would decide to don Stampeders colours for a little while longer.
On Feb. 12, they got their wish and Rogers re-signed with the Stamps for two more years.
As it turns out, even Rogers wasn’t sure what he was going to do.
“Right before free agency I was still thinking about not coming back but I was feeling good and relaxed so I came up here and saw them and everything went well,” Rogers said.
Back in Calgary for Stampeders training camp, Rogers is in a much better place physically than he was a year ago.
While Rogers returned to the Stamps last season following a couple years in the NFL and recovering from a devastating knee injury, he missed all of training camp and was never quite 100% last year.
He played in nine regular season games and both playoff tilts, and was extremely effective when he was available — Rogers finished the season with 36 receptions for 499 yards and five touchdowns — but had to play through pain and was out of the lineup from the end of July until the beginning of October.
His three touchdown performance in the West Final was a reminder of just how dominant he could be, though, and there was never any doubt that the Stamps would want him to come back if he wanted to play again.
Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson is going to be careful with Rogers during training camp and the team will be monitoring his health throughout the year, but early signs are encouraging.
“Eric’s feeling way better than last year,” Dickenson said. “I’m going to back him off of double (practice) days as soon as he feels it’s a little sort, but he feels really good.”
Part of that is that Rogers didn’t have any surgeries this off-season, so he’s already got a head start on where he was at last season.
But he’s also worked to strengthen other parts of his leg, which he believes will help protect his knee.
“My (quadriceps) is a lot stronger, so hopefully with my quad being a lot stronger it takes off a little bit of pressure on the knee joint,” Rogers said. “Last year, my quad wasn’t as strong so with the pounding, the knee took the brunt of it.”
If the Stampeders can get a healthy Rogers for most of the season, it would go a long way towards keeping them in contention.
The receiving corps has seen a lot of turnover this off-season with the departures of DaVaris Daniels and Marken Michel, and will be without Kamar Jorden until Labour Day at the earliest — and Dickenson has expressed the need to temper expectations for his return.
When Rogers is out on the field, he’s one of the most dangerous receivers in the CFL, and with all indications being that he’s healthy, there’s a very real possibility that he could be in for a huge year in 2019.
Gump Hayes and DaShaun Amos have been taking the majority of reps with the first-team defensive backs so far at training camp.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean anyone should be thinking they’re guaranteed starters.
Hayes has been playing at the cornerback position where Ciante Evans was last year, while Amos has been in the halfback spot that was occupied by Emanuel Davis.
Both Hayes and Amos were with the Stampeders last year but as Dickenson explained, there’s still a lot of competition for both jobs.
“I’m going to be straight up, though, I think it’s equal,” Dickenson said. “I think those young kids who weren’t here are doing their job, too, and I’m not sure that any one person has separated (themselves) at all. They may be getting those first team reps but in my mind everybody is equal.”
Thursday morning’s practice may have been the most spirited of training camp, so far. The guys definitely seemed happy to have their pads on and able to throw their bodies around a little bit … Keep an eye on receiver Josh Huff. It’s still too early to be drawing conclusions about any of the guys at camp, but Huff has been impressive … Honestly, good luck guessing which running backs will stick around to back up Don Jackson this year. At least until we’ve seen them compete in a pre-season game, we probably won’t have much of an idea. They’ve all had moments where they looked the part, and both LaDarius Galloway and Gerald Holmes were impressive on Thursday … It really seems like the Stampeders got a good one in first round draft pick Hergy Mayala.