Stampeders Notes: Looking to bounce back
Bo Levi Mitchell has always talked about how the Calgary Stampeders like to break their season down into four quarters.
There’s the 18 regular season games and, somewhat surprisingly, the two pre-season games as well — the playoffs are a different animal.
So if the Stamps QB needs to find motivation, he’s not just finding it in their season-opening loss to the Ottawa Redblacks.
The team’s pre-season defeat to the B.C. Lions, who they’ll meet again on Saturday at McMahon Stadium (5 p.m., TSN, 770 CHQR) weighs on him, too.
“It’s early on, we’re not going to overreact. You want to get out to a hot start in a season, and that’s not the first step you’re looking for,” Mitchell said. “I think you use the last two games as motivation, pre-season. Even though it was young guys in there (in the Stamps’ second pre-season game), we’re still giving up a pretty big lead and losing games, and then us doing it last week, we only lost the game by four points but when you have a big lead you should be able to put the game away.”
There were four changes to the Stampeders lineup for Saturday’s matchup with the Lions, and all of them seemed to be motivated by injuries.
Defensive lineman Junior Turner and linebacker Dwayne Norman were both removed from the active roster and added to the six-game injured list, while defensive back Lorenzo Jerome and defensive tackle Ese Mrabure were unable to recover from their less-serious injuries in time for this weekend’s game and were placed on the one-game injured list.
In their places, the Stamps added DB Robertson Daniel, LB Eric Mezzalira and d-linemen Jabar Westerman and Chris Casher.
According to Dickenson, there could have been a lot more changes, but the Stamps’ bye in Week 2 allowed several banged-up players to recover.
“We had the off week, which helped,” Dickenson said. “Had a couple guys who were banged up who were able to get back in there. I feel good about our lineup. We’re growing, we’re building this thing. Got a lot of work to do, but hopefully we take a step forward.”
It remains to be seen whether Westerman will actually play, as it’s possible — likely, even — that he’ll be made inactive prior to the start of the game. If that happens, it means first-year defensive lineman Vincent Desjardins will get his first taste of CFL action.
NO BIG DEAL
The Stampeders largely downplayed the significance of taking on an opponent that features former teammates Lemar Durant and Maleki Harris and is coached by their former defensive coordinator, DeVone Claybrooks.
Receiver Markeith Ambles said he was looking forward to a little more lighthearted trash talk than normal, but like the rest of this year’s Stampeders, noted that it’s generally just a lot of fun to play against people you know.
And as Bo Levi Mitchell pointed out, that generally happens almost every game in the CFL.
“I mean, it’s the CFL. You know a lot of guys pretty well,” Mitchell said. “I think we’ve got to go out there and focus on ourselves. We have a unique opportunity to come off a bye week early in a season, bounce back from a loss that we don’t normally have early on, and I think that’s important.”
Juwan Brescacin said something similar.
“The league’s small, guys are going to come in and out of the lockerroom,” Brescacin said. “It’s weird watching Lemar being on another team because he was here since I got here, so that’s a little weird, but we know what we need to do and that’s about it.”
DeVone Claybrooks certainly wasn’t surprised by Tre Roberson’s three interception game in the Stampeders’ season-opener.
Claybrooks was the Stamps’ defensive coordinator last year when Roberson was a rookie.
“The thing of it is, nobody really gives him any credit but I was telling my guys, the thing is, he is arguably one of the best boundary corners in the league,” Claybrooks said. “The scary part about it is he’s only been doing it for a few years, he was a quarterback.”
Mitchell, by the way, weighed-in on Roberson’s brilliant start to the season, as well, and made sure to note how strange it was that his teammate didn’t get honoured as one of the CFL’s three Performers of the Week.
“Tre’s insane. He was a quarterback so I think he understands things the way a quarterback does,” Mitchell said. “Tre come out there ready to go, I think he could have had four or five. It still baffles me that he wasn’t a player of the week with three picks, but what do you do?”
If you wanted to illustrate just how much turnover the Stampeders defence has had over the last couple seasons, you could do worse than this: The Stamps are only dressing four defensive players for Saturday’s game against the Lions who were on the active roster for the 2017 West Division Final. There were five defensive players from that day in November 18 months ago who dressed in the Friday night matchup between the Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats