Calgary Sun by Dan Toth
chilly gang of Calgary Stampeders was greeted in the locker-room yesterday by a fresh batch of hearty chicken soup, lovingly prepared by equipment man George Hopkins.
Good for fighting off an all-too-early blast of winter, the beverage was gulped down post-practice by thankful players and coaches alike.
Not quite as comforting is the team's current quarterbacking concoction.
This week's recipe includes fresh-faced rookie Danny Wimprine, making his first pro start Saturday against Montreal, CFL neophyte Josh Harris, rushed into the backup spot while still introducing himself to Stamps personnel, and former No. 1 man Henry Burris, his left thumb in a cast, as third-stringer.
Wimprine impressed with his play against the Ottawa Renegades last Thursday, completing 10 of 21 passes for 162 yards while avoiding fatal errors after being thrust into action late in the second quarter.
Now Harris finds himself assuming Wimprine's role of a week ago, one injury away from taking control of the offence without the benefit of 12 weeks of taking snaps in practice.
"The pressure's on and I'm just trying to prepare myself the best I can so I can go in and do my job if I have to," said Harris, 23, a Bowling Green product.
"That's why when I go home, I'm still looking at my playbook, still studying.
"This is a fairly simple offence to pick up but you still have to execute. You can know every play and not execute and end up looking bad anyway. That's the key."
Harris joined the team in Hamilton just a dozen days ago, an emergency acquisition after Burris's injury in the Labour Day rematch. Suddenly Harris is in position to play a role in the 7-6 Stampeders' playoff push as he took the backup reps in yesterday's workout, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
"It certainly is a whirlwind right now but now all I've got to do is slow things down for me, spend a lot of time looking at my playbook and focusing on where guys are going to be," said Harris, a sixth-round NFL draft pick of Baltimore (2004) who also spent time in Cleveland.
"It's good to get some reps and get on the field and run some of our plays but getting the timing down is important now."
After spending the last two weeks out of uniform, Burris is expected to suit up Saturday to help guide Wimprine through his first start. It was Burris who piloted the offence to a 40-37 win a month ago in Montreal.
"I can share some things with him against a team like Montreal that I've played against for a few years and had some success," Burris said. "It also helps me go through the progression of things for when I get back out on the field."
That may be sooner than first expected. Burris looked sharp throwing passes with the scout team in yesterday's workout and is eager to get back into the starting lineup.
Although his cast won't be removed until late October, Burris is scheduled to see a specialist Monday and could start as soon as the Oct. 14 contest against the Ticats, a comforting thought for head coach Tom Higgins.
"I truly believe Henry could line up and play (against Montreal) but I don't feel that would be prudent. It's still too fresh, he still needs more time for that to heal," Higgins said.
"Just being out on the field, being able to execute plays, in my mind is going to put him in a position that when the cast does come off, he should (be better prepared to return)."
Jason Gesser, who suffered a sprained ankle in his first start last week against Ottawa, limped through practice.
"It's sore, it's tender and I'm still real weak with it but ... if I had to play, I think I could," he said.