STAMPS NOTES: How the roster stands now
Training camp’s done, the roster is set.
But it’s probably best not to draw too many conclusions about who is going to be starting for the Calgary Stampeders when the regular season kicks off Saturday against the Ottawa Redblacks.
The Stamps entered camp with starting jobs available, and head coach Dave Dickenson couldn’t have been much more clear on Saturday morning when he said there’s still a lot to get sorted out before the meaningful games get going next weekend.
“To me, the starting jobs have not been determined yet,” Dickenson said. “We’re still competing for starting jobs. I didn’t see enough from certain guys. That doesn’t mean they won’t be on the team, though. First things first, get your team lined up.”
As it currently stands, we’ve got a pretty decent idea about how most of the Stamps’ starting roster is going to look next weekend, but there are some notable battles still left to be fought.
Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of what we know and don’t know:
This one’s easy. It’s Bo Levi Mitchell. End of story.
Last year’s backup Nick Arbuckle looked great in pre-season and he cleanly won the No. 2 spot heading into 2019 over Montell Cozart.
The quarterback position is essentially exactly the same as last year, although having Arbuckle and Cozart around the team for most of last season gives the Stamps a bit more of a safety blanket.
“I think when Andrew (Buckley) retired the year before it was like ‘Who? We’ve got nobody’, “ Dickenson said. “I had somewhat of a relationship with Nick and I thought he could come in and compete for a backup job. I think Nick has definitely solidified that job.”
Don Jackson is looking to build off an impressive rookie campaign and while he dealt with an injury early in camp, his brief cameo in Friday’s game against the Lions suggests he’s going to hit the ground running.
The Stamps also have Terry Williams, who grew into his role as a kick returner last season and whose speed is a real asset wherever he plays.
Ka’Deem Carey won a job on the practice roster in pre-season, too, and his physicality brings something a little different than what Williams and Jackson provide. Don’t be surprised to see him get a shot this year.
No group had a crazier pre-season than the offensive line, as a season-ending injury to Brad Erdos made the Stamps adjust on the fly.
It looks like 2018 first-round pick Ryan Sceviour is the most likely candidate to take over for Erdos, while last year’s centre Ucambre Williams will slot back into that role and Nila Kasitati could get a shot at right tackle.
One way or another, the offensive line earned some rave reviews for its performance on Friday.
“I was happy with our offensive line. BC ran a lot of edge pressure and they’re good upfront, too. I do think we’ve got some talent there and we’re still looking, obviously, to get everyone healthy.”
The competition at training camp was never really about the starting jobs, it was more about adding depth in case one of the starters went down.
The truth is, the Stamps need their American starters to stay healthy so they can get newcomers like Josh Huff, Aaron Beck and Daniel Braverman fully ready to play at the CFL level.
We can expect to see Markeith Ambles, Eric Rogers, Reggie Begelton and Juwan Brescacin starting regularly from Week 1, but the emergence of Michael Klukas and potential of first-round pick Hergy Mayala means the second Canadian receiver position is worth keeping an eye on.
Last year, Alex Singleton and Jameer Thurman combined to form the most dominant linebacker duo in the entire CFL.
It’s going to be different this year, but with veteran Cory Greenwood at middle-linebacker and the emerging Wynton McManis at the weakside spot, there’s reason to believe this can still be an area of strength.
Riley Jones and Fraser Sopik are interesting Canadian backups, while Dwayne Norman sure looks like he can do the job, too.
With starters Micah Johnson and Ja’Gared Davis gone, this is a legitimate area of concern for the Stamps.
It looks like Mike Rose and Derek Wiggan will be the starters at tackle, while Cordarro Law is a lock to start at one of the two defensive end spots. The other? It was probably going to be Folarin Orimolade, but Ivan McLennan or Chris Casher are probably going to get looks.
Here’s what we know for sure: Brandon Smith, Jamar Wall and Tre Roberson are going to have big, big roles to play this season.
Beyond that? DaShaun Amos looks like he’s going to get the opportunity to take over for Emanuel Davis, while Royce Metchie and Courtney Stephen will compete for the starting safety job.
It’s a little harder to say who is going to slot in at field corner, though. We thought it might be Gump Hayes, but he was released on Saturday.