Stamps Notes: Offensive line starting to gel
Allow the Calgary Stampeders offensive line a moment to feel themselves.
They were under scrutiny at times this season, but after Monday’s win over the Edmonton Eskimos in the Labour Day Classic, the o-line received only praise.
Stamps quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell even received a game ball from head coach Dave Dickenson, and he immediately passed it off to the guys who are tasked with protecting him.
It was rewarding for everyone, but particularly for the right side of the offensive line.
Starting right tackle Nila Kasitati and right guard Ryan Sceviour are both essentially in their first year as first options for the Stampeders, and both had their best games of the year.
“They did, they’ve been getting better,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “The young guys have upped their game. Both Nila and (Sceviour), early on, I think people were targeting them and trying to run their games on their side.
“They’ve now upped their games. We look like a group of five.”
Kasitati was signed as a free agent by the Stampeders as 2018, and was originally considered as an option at centre.
Sceviour was drafted in the first round by the Stampeders in the 2018 CFL Draft and spent most of last season as a backup guard, only to start this year’s training camp competing for the starting centre spot.
When Brad Erdos suffered a season-ending injury during camp, it forced a shuffle.
Ucambre Williams went back to the centre spot he went last year, while Sceviour went back to guard and Kasitati took over the starting right tackle position.
Especially after quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell went down, there were moments where the Stamps were giving up sacks early this season.
On Monday, though, they didn’t allow the previously-dominant Eskimos defensive line to pick up a single sack, and the run game also exploded for 201 yards.
It was a good afternoon.
“I think for us, it’s a monkey off our back,” said starting left tackle Derek Dennis. “Early on, all year, Dicky has been challenging the o-line to kind of pick up our aggression. Especially losing Bo early on and trying to pick up our running game, I feel like yesterday, the five of us made a conscious decision to go out and kind of try to maul stuff. Just watching the film, you can tell we had a different mindset. Now that it’s on film, we’ve just got to keep on building.”
Being so effective was particularly rewarding for that right side of the offensive line.
There’s been some building and growing that had to take place, but the group proved against the Eskimos that it was worth staying patient.
“Maybe it was the jets, maybe it was Labour Day, but it all came together,” Sceviour said. “To finally figure out, me and Nila, how to play together, it’s great to finally get the fruits of our labour.
“It was awesome seeing it finally come together for us, as an o-line and as a group.”
Receiver Richard Sindani left Monday’s game for a little while after suffering what appeared to be a shoulder injury, but he returned in the second half and didn’t appear any worse for wear at Wednesday’s practice — it wasn’t a particularly high-tempo practice, to be clear.
According to Dickenson, there doesn’t appear to be anything to worry about.
“He’s out here,” Dickenson said, plainly.
The Stamps appear to have made it out of the Labour Day Classic without any particularly serious injuries. That’s a minor miracle on a five-day week — their third of thee season.
The team gave their players Tuesday off and they only practiced for an hour on Wednesday.
“Basically, with the five-day week, give them time to rest,” Dickenson said. “Today is a mental day. You can’t shut off on a mental day, though, we can’t stay the status quo.. We’ve got to do different things (in Saturday’s Labour Day Replay). We had waiting, we planned on doing one (play) the one week and one the next week, if it fits.
“We’re definitely going to have new stuff.”
Do not expect the Stampeders to reveal anything about potential signings after NFL cuts. Dickenson was asked about the possibility of bringing Marken Michel back, and he was clear that he wouldn’t be giving up any information . . . It looks like Ka’Deem Carey is healthy, and that means he’s going to get the start at running back on Saturday . . . Honestly, it didn’t look like anyone was missing at Wednesday’s practice. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything — it was a low-energy practice — but the Stamps appear to have gotten through Monday’s big game without anything serious hitting their roster.