Stingy Stamps secondary earning 1st-rate reviews from coach

Fearsome fivesome say stifling of Esks just the beginning

Defensive back Crance Clemons works out at Stamps practice at McMahon Stadium on Tuesday as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. Clemons is about a week away from rejoining a strong Stamps secondary.

Jean LeFebvre, Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Coby Rhinehart's evaluation of his Week 3 performance?

Not perfect.

Tim Burke's take?

Pretty goshdarn close.

In the Calgary coaching staff's grading of players in the aftermath of last week's 23-22 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Rhinehart was one of five members of the Stampeders secondary bestowed with a mark of 90 per cent or better.

In fact, Rhinehart's sparkling 95 per cent score had defensive-backs coach Burke rubbing his chin and scouring his memory bank.

"I don't ever remember a player grading that high," mused Burke, who has been wearing a whistle since 1977. "At least, not a guy who's played the whole game. Maybe a nickel back who was only in there for a few plays, but not a starter."

The two golden stars pressed into Rhinehart's notebook, the curve-wrecking feats, were the virtual shutout he pitched at Ticats receiver D.J. Flick and the key fourth-quarter Jason Maas pass he pilfered.

Still, one critic was far less kind and generous in his assessment of the performance.

"I didn't have a great game," scowled Rhinehart, a 29-year-old out of Dallas. "I missed a couple of tackles that I should have made. I slipped on those plays, but I'm not making excuses. I should have made the tackles. I'm always looking for that perfect game."

Rhinehart's mea culpa notwithstanding, it was a stellar performance by he and his fellow starters, Jermaine Chatman, Trey Young, J.R. Ruffin and Sadrick Williams.

By completing 25 of his 31 chucks, Maas had, at first blush, a great night. Then you look at the air yardage -- just 213, a nickel and dime at a time -- and you realize Calgary's zone scheme neatly snuffed out Hamilton's deep game.

The last line of defence, then, was instrumental in holding the Tabbies' attack without a touchdown.

"It was a great night," nodded Young, the unit's safety. "The guys up front did a fantastic job, and Coby had a big pick and Tony T. (Tiller) had one, too. We were making sure they had nothing downfield and force them to go with the short pass all night."

"That's what we do," offered Rhinehart. "We want to take away the deep stuff and force them to go underneath. Then it's our job to come up and make tackles."

"You'd like the completion percentage to be a little lower," admitted Burke, "but if it's second-and-long and they complete a short pass and we stop them, force them to punt, then we've done our job."

Scorched for almost 400 passing yards by Edmonton's Ricky Ray in each of their first two 2006 outings, the Stamps are understandably encouraged by the shut-down night. They boldly predict more of the same in the coming weeks.

"We're coming together," suggested Young. "Especially on the field side with Sadrick and J.R., a couple of rookies who are doing a great job for us."

"We're working toward becoming a great defence," said Rhinehart. "We're pretty good now, but in two or three games, I believe we're going to get it all together and stop making the mistakes that are preventing us from being great."

Red and White: OL Jeff Pilon (abdominal) practised Tuesday and, barring a setback, will reclaim his position at right guard from Tyler Lynem for Saturday's tilt at Regina . . . DB Crance Clemons (hamstring) was chugging up and down the McMahon Stadium stairs Tuesday, but is probably a week away from returning to active duty.

haha...cmon red you stiffled a couple of stiffs....if you can stiffle the Riders well....haha thats still just as funny...