WR - Scotty Anderson
Anderson has been sought after by GM Jim Barker for a couple of years now, and he showed why immediately. This is a player that has top end speed capable of stretching a defence, something the Stamps have lacked since the departure of Marc Boerigter. Not only does he bring high end speed but he has a tremendous set of hands, ideal size, and remarkable athleticism for producing yards after the catch. So far he’s been one of the real gems of camp.
OG - John Comiskey
In his second year with the Stamps Comiskey is looking to move up the depth chart. Although he dressed for seven games last year 06 will be his chance to see some significant game action, he is versatile enough to play guard or center. This is a dude with an attitude on the playing field; he’s proving to have quick feet and an excellent burst off the line.
QB - David Corley
With first (Henry Burris) and second (Danny McManus) string already determined the Stampeders decided to go with the athletic second year Corley as their third QB. Corley has shown a strong arm and excellent mobility in camp, and should see significant game time in the first exhibition contest so that Coaches Higgins & Burrato can assess his ability to transfer those skills onto the playing field.
DE - Tony Ficklin
Tony “The Freak? Ficklin has been pushing the incumbent D end, Demetrious Maxie, hard for playing time. In many ways Ficklin looks like a young D-Max, it also helps that Maxie has taken the rookie under his wing. The Stamps brass will look for some way to keep Ficklin on the roster if he produces in the preseason. He is versatile and athletic enough to play end, nose tackle, or even fullback if needed.
NT - Miguel Robede
The top pick in the 05 draft finally made his debut with the Big Red, and he’s shown flashes of dominance thus far. Initially he came into camp needing to lose about 20 pounds, which coach Casey Creehan quickly burned off him, since then he’s been progressing nicely. There is no need to rush Robede along at this point with mentors Sheldon Napastuk and Randy Chevrier ahead of him, but you can see the raw ability is there and it won’t be long before he gets his shot to start with the Stamps.
DE - LaDrelle Bryant & Terrence Royal
Both of these rookies have shown some intriguing skills, Bryant has a fabulous burst off the snap and Royal has a motor that won’t stop. They will both get a long look in the preseason games, but ultimately one will probably be released and the other will start the year on the developmental squad. This isn’t a slight against Bryant or Royal, it’s just that the Stampeders already have a stellar group of defensive ends, and the CFL rosters are limited to 46 active and 7 developmental. You may however, want to remember these names down the road.
LB - Hakim Akbar
Calgary will start the year without one of their best players period in backer George White, who is recovering from an off-season Achilles injury. Because of this GM Jim Barker knew he had to bring in some serious athletes at linebacker to off set the loss of White for the time being. One of those athletes is Hakim Akbar who up until he tweaked a hamstring was looking like a leading candidate to fill White’s spot. This isn’t a serious injury so watch for Akbar to make a strong play for a starting spot come June 17.
LB - Khalid Abdullah
Another playmaker who is being considered strongly for White’s spot until G.W. is healthy. Abdullah has the ability to play inside or out, and comes to the Stamps camp with the reputation of being a punishing hitter. He has also shown great pursuit to the ball carrier throughout camp.
DB - J.R. Ruffin
Ruffin is another newcomer forcing the Stampeders coaches to take notice. In the first few days of camp Ruffin made a number of plays showing off his great ability to anticipate and jump a pass. Defensive coaches Denny Creehan and Bill Diedrick may be forced to find a spot for this kid if he continues to show he’s a playmaker. As a bonus Ruffin has been showing some flashes as a punt returner.
DB - Cedrick Williams
May be the most consistent of the newcomers in the defensive backfield through the first eleven days. Excellent cover skills, and not afraid to step up in run support.
Others have shown flashes during camp, but may ultimately be looked upon as projects to be placed on the developmental squad are DB RoShawn Marshall, LB Donnie McClesky, RB Wes Cates, G Derek Armstrong, and WR Anthony Bright.
It’s obvious the Stampeders organization didn’t want any of the veterans to rest on their laurels coming into the 06 camp as a number of impressive first year CFL hopefuls have been pushing the incumbents. Having said that the veterans have looked awesome through the first couple of weeks, and it’s obvious they are on a mission this year to not only avenge that bitter loss last November but to bring the Grey Cup back to Calgary.
The next step for any of the players brought in to win a job is the first exhibition game Friday June 2nd in Vancouver. Any contender for a roster spot will have to raise his game Friday and make a statement. There are some players who look fabulous in practice but fall apart when the lights go on, and conversely others are known as “gamers?. Who will be a “gamer? and take a giant step towards being a member of the 06 Big Red? This may be determined after 60 minutes against the Lions Friday night.