STAMPS NOTES: Veterans mostly staying home for Friday pre-season game
Most of the veterans are staying home.
After a couple weeks of training camp and with the regular season just over a week away, the Calgary Stampeders are opting to go with a young, inexperienced lineup for Friday night’s game against the B.C. Lions (8 p.m., TSN, 770 CHQR).
The team that takes the field in Vancouver will certainly look nothing like the one that won the Grey Cup last November. In fact, only seven starters on offence and defence from last year’s championship game will be starting Friday.
The list of guys being left out includes veterans like Brandon Smith, Jamar Wall and Eric Rogers, but also a few younger players who Dickenson feels have done more than enough in training camp to earn the night off.
“Certainly the guys who are up there in age a little bit, they’ve had a nice camp and I don’t need to see more of them,” Dickenson said Thursday morning from McMahon Stadium. “Some of the younger guys as well, Reggie Begelton, it’s not like he’s been around a long time. Tre Roberson (too), but they’ve looked really good in camp, so I thought, ‘let’s get them as fresh and healthy as possible’. “
It isn’t exactly surprising that the Stampeders opted to go with a younger look for Friday’s game.
The team has a lot of positions they’re looking to fill this season, and the word throughout camp has been that competition has been extremely tight.
With the coaching staff needing to cut the roster down Saturday and start preparing for Week 1 of the regular season, Friday night provides one last opportunity for the rookies in camp to show what they’re capable of.
You’re not going to learn anything new about a guy like Smith or Wall in a pre-season game — they’ve been around for years and everyone knows what they bring to the roster.
But a young receiver like Aaron Peck, who really stood out in the Stamps’ mock game two weeks ago but didn’t have a single reception in their pre-season opener against the Saskatchewan Roughriders? Yeah, that’s the sort of player the team would like to get a closer look at before making their decision on whether to keep him around.
Both the offensive and defensive lines will look largely the same as what you’d expect from the Stampeders on Week 1 against the Ottawa Redblacks, although veteran defensive end Cordarro Law will not play Friday.
The defensive backs group is perhaps the heaviest on rookies, as Smith, Wall and the presumed starter at safety, Courtney Stephen, were all being left off the roster.
Ultimately, Friday marks the last chance for many of the guys the Stamps brought into training camp to make an impression on the coaches, although Dickenson stressed that he still expects his team to compete with the Lions.
“I do want to go out there and compete, I do want to go out there and certainly play good football,” Dickenson said. “It’s not like we have to win, but that’s why we play still.”
HE’LL BE IN
You can expect to see more of Bo Levi Mitchell on Friday.
The Stamps QB had a brief cameo at the beginning of the team’s pre-season opener, but the backups handed most of the duties.
With Troy Cook getting released earlier this week, backups Montell Cozart and Nick Arbuckle will still get a lot of time at QB, but expect to see more of Mitchell, too.
“We’re gonna play him,” Dickenson said. “Just play it like I always do. If I feel he’s had enough, if I feel he’s executed what we wanted to execute, then get him out.
“Right now, I’m thinking you probably won’t see him, ultimately, in the second half but we’ll see where we put him in the first half.”
GOING FOR IT
It might only be pre-season, but Dickenson believes that Lions head coach DeVone Claybrooks would probably love to get a win Friday.
Claybrooks was the Stamps’ defensive coordinator for the last couple seasons before taking his first head-coaching job with the Lions in the off-season.
The Stamps will be presenting him – as well as linebacker Maleki Harris and receiver Lemar Durant – with their Grey Cup rings, and Dickenson is expecting Claybrooks’ competitive juices to be flowing on Friday night.
“Honestly, it’ll be good to see those guys and put last year to bed, as well, get them their rings,” Dickenson said. “All first-year head coaches, say what you want (but) I’ve been there. You still want to get that win, you do. You want to get your first win, whether it’s pre-season or not, you want to generate that culture.”