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Calgary Stampeders look for another receiver to step up

Whether Reggie Begelton plays or not, the Calgary Stampeders are hoping another receiver steps up.

It’s something they’ve been hoping to see for a little while now, to be fair, but with Begelton looking likely to miss Friday’s game against the Toronto Argonauts, it’s beginning to feel a little more urgent.

Begelton and Eric Rogers have been carrying the majority of the receiving load for the Stampeders over the past month,  and the team needs more than two receivers consistently putting up big numbers if they’re going to make a real push at winning the CFL’s West Division.

“It’s very important, you can’t just make it a two-man show,” said Stamps receivers coach Pete Costanza. “Everyone’s talking about how they’ve been Batman and Robin out there, and now we need Spiderman and Superman to step up and join the party with them.”

To be fair to the Stampeders receiving corps, they’re missing a couple of key pieces.

Second-year wide receiver Markeith Ambles has been out with an ankle injury since Labour Day, while Juwan Brescacin – who looked set to have a breakout year in the slot position – hasn’t played since Week 7 against the Ottawa Redblacks because of an injury.

One of Brescacin, Ambles, Rogers or Begelton has led the team in receiving yards in every single game this season – and Begelton has had the most yards for five of the past six weeks.

Begelton happens to be leading the CFL in receiving yards, so it’s not exactly a shock that he’d have the most yards on any given night and Rogers is, well … Eric Rogers. So no surprises there, either.

The fact that only Rogers, Begelton and Brescacin have scored a receiving touchdown for the Stampeders this season is a little worrying, though. In fact, if Begelton is out Friday, no other Stampeders receiver who is likely to be in the lineup will ever have scored a CFL touchdown other than Rogers.

“They’re going to have their opportunities,” Rogers said. “Right now, me and Reggie are getting a lot of opportunities closer to the end zone. I know Juwan scored for us a couple times earlier in the year, but besides him nobody has really touched the end zone. I want to see new blood.”

Begelton hasn’t practised this week. A betting person would put his or her money on him being out of the lineup against the Argos.

That means someone is going to need to step up and based on who has been taking first-team reps over the past couple days, rookie Aaron Peck is likely the next man up.

Every team is protective of information about who is or isn’t going to play in games, and Peck wouldn’t confirm that he was definitely on the roster, but every indication is that he will be.

The Stampeders like what they’ve seen from the 6-foot-3, 225 lbs. Fresno State product, though.

“He’s got good hands, he’s good at high-pointing the ball and he’s physical,” said Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson. “He went down the field in pre-season. You don’t really know what you’ve got until you see it. Both him and (Daniel Braverman), we’ve been messing around with this week, letting them get a little more reps with the (starters) and I think both have showed they can play.”

Peck stood out in the Stamps’ second pre-season game, catching three balls for 38 yards and a touchdown, but it’s  hard to know how that will translate onto the late-season field.

He has been on the practice roster all season, just waiting for his opportunity. And there’s a real opportunity on Friday in Toronto.

That goes for all the Stamps receivers, of course.

Josh Huff, who took over when Ambles went down, is coming off a tough game against the Ticats last weekend in which he had a couple of drops, but he did get open enough that quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell targeted him nine times.

Colton Hunchak had a quieter week after stepping up in a big way in the Labour Day Rematch, but it’s worth remembering that he’s a Canadian rookie who was the third option at the slot position he has occupied for the past two weeks and was called upon after Brescacin and Richard Sindani both went down.

The Stamps would surely love some more production out of the wide receiver position, where Michael Klukas and Hergy Mayala split time, too.

Ultimately, if Begelton is out Friday, somebody other than Rogers is going to need to have a big game.

The Stamps gave Peck and Braverman lots of reps with the first-team offence this week, and Costanza believes that whoever is called upon has shown they can meet the challenge.

“They’ve been around all year and with the guys kind of knicked up a little bit, it’s really best to get them more reps with the offence,” Costanza said. “They haven’t really taken a whole bunch of reps other than here or there, spot-playing. Both of them did real well, knowledge-wise and with executing stuff.

“It gives us more of a security blanket when they’re ready to go.”