STAMPEDERS NOTES: Derek Dennis not stressing potential o-line shuffle
The Calgary Stampeders offensive line has had to shuffle before, so they’re confident they can handle having to do it again.
Derek Dennis, for example, doesn’t seem the least bit stressed about moving from left tackle – where he has played pretty much his entire CFL career – to the other side of the line at right tackle.
He’s been in weirder situations as an offensive lineman for the Stampeders, if he’s being honest.
“I’ve been here when I had to play next to a d-lineman, so I know what it’s like to be thrown into the fire with someone you ain’t used to,” Dennis said.
Right now, it appears the Stampeders will be going with a new look against the Toronto Argonauts on Friday night.
Because linebacker Cory Greenwood is likely out and being replaced by American Nate Holley, the Stamps are opting to play three Canadians on the offensive line and only two Americans – for most of the season, only two Canadians have played.
That means Dennis is flipping sides from left tackle to right tackle, while Ucambre Williams is moving from centre to Dennis’ usual position on the left.
Shane Bergman will stay at left guard while Justin Lawrence plays centre and Ryan Sceviour is at right guard.
As Dennis explained, the main different between playing on the left and the right is really mental.
“It’s small nuances. You’ve got to flip things in your mind,” Dennis said. “When you get accustomed to playing in one direction and getting your hips to open up and move (there’s an adjustment), but I started my career at right tackle, so just have to get accustomed to flipping everything in my mind.”
Moving from centre to tackle may be a bit more of a change for Williams, though.
The responsibilities are different out there, and the Argos do have legitimately dangerous defensive ends who will be eager to get at Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell.
It’s worth remembering, though, that Williams started training camp practising at tackle and only returned to playing centre when a season-ending injury for Brad Erdors prompted the Stampeders to revamp their plans for the offensive line this season.
“It’s just a little adjustment, but we’re going to see how it goes. Just go out there and play hard,” Williams said. “It’s more of a mindset and me believing and getting the job done. Take each play one at a time and just go with it.
“The guys are locked into the (game plan) and the details. It’s a short week and we know that comes with the season. On a short week, we’ve just got to lock in a little tougher and a little harder.”
The Stampeders’ game last Saturday night against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was tough and physical.
Some of it was a little too much for the CFL, as it turned out.
On Wednesday, the league announced its player discipline for Week 14, and players on both the Stamps and Ticats were handed fines.
Ticats linebacker Simoni Lawrence was fined for an “unnecessary roughness at the end of a play” on Stamps running back Ka’Deem Carey.
Stamps o-lineman Justin Lawrence, meanwhile, was fined for an illegal block on Ticats d-lineman Dylan Wynn.
That wasn’t all, though, as the league also announced some additional fines from Week 13, and they included one for Stamps linebacker Nate Holley for a high hit on Edmonton Eskimos receiver Greg Ellingson in the Labour Day Replay.
Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson didn’t formally rule out Greenwood or receiver Reggie Begelton after Wednesday’s practice, but neither has practised this week and it’s very unlikely that we’ll see them on the roster for Friday’s game that gets released on Thursday morning.
Dickenson admitted that the fact that the Stampeders have a bye week right after Friday’s game will have an impact on his final decision, as that should give both players – the CFL leaders in tackles and receiving yards – time to heal from their ailments.
“A little bit, yeah, it does,” Dickenson said of the bye week. “I’ve got to be smart, as well. I want them to tell me when they’re ready to go and then I make the decision.”
Begelton took a big hit on the goal line against the Ticats, but Dickenson also said that his absence from practice was unrelated to that.
“No, just a muscle pull,” Dickenson said. “Doesn’t mean as a receiver he can go, but he keeps himself in great shape and has said he’s feeling better, so we’ll see.”
Receiver Markeith Ambles has been out since the Labour Day Classic and will not play Friday because of an ankle injury.
He should be back soon, though, especially with the bye week up next.
“He was close this week, personally, but we talked and just thought with the bye it was the best thing, so I would expect him to be available for the following game,” Dickenson said.