With a new head coach, key player additions and a solid nucleus, the Calgary Stampeders are ready for 2008 training camp. Here's a complete unit-by-unit look at the squad as camp begins on June, 1:
Click here for the depth chart...
Returnees: Henry Burris, Ben Sankey, Barrick Nealy
Newcomers: Dave Dickenson
Analysis: There's not much drama surrounding the top two spots in the pecking order. Burris heads into camp as the starter and Dickenson will back him up. Burris is coming off a season in which he threw 34 touchdowns and had a 102.0 QB rating (league highs) and Head Coach John Hufnagel expects to see more improvement in 2008. Dickenson is a proven winner and provides a remarkable No. 2 option. Sankey also has proven he can win in the CFL and Nealy has shown plenty of potential. The Stamps head into camp with their best QB depth in nearly a decade.
Returnees: Joffrey Reynolds, Ken Simonton, Jon Cornish, Rob Cote
Newcomers: Demetris Summers, Jonathan Lapointe
Analysis: With Reynolds and Simonton, the Stamps have a pair of backs who were productive in 2007. It has been said that Summers possesses Reynolds power and Simonton's ability to run routes and catch out of the backfield. This unit should make for some nice highlights. Hufnagel would like to see Cornish get more carries than the one he had last year and also said he'd like Cote — the second-year fullback — to become more involved in the passing game.
Returnees: Ken-Yon Rambo, Jeremaine Copeland, Ryan Thelwell, Nik Lewis, Brett Ralph, Greg Hetherington
Newcomers: James Banks, Henry Bekkering, Tyrone Calico, Jessie Burton, Chris Jackson, Reggie Williams, Eddie Montgomery, Nate Curry, Blaine Kruger
Analysis: The three veteran imports — Lewis, Rambo and Copeland — have earned the inside track by putting together respectable CFL careers. Ralph and Thelwell were key non-imports last season and they both return. The one thing missing from this unit is flat-out, gamebreaking speed. To that end, Hufnagel said he'd like to add someone to stretch the field. Calico, Jackson, Montgomery and Williams all fit that bill but there also are others who looked good in rookie camp. Curry is interesting because he brings CFL experience to the table and Hetherington is trying to build on a season spent on the practice roster. Bekkering is a basketball star who is attempting to see how he might be able to transition over to football. Kruger was a star junior player and he's also the son of former Stampeder Harry Kruger.
Returnees: Jeff Pilon, Rob Lazeo, Godfrey Ellis, Derek Armstrong
Newcomers: Antonio Hall, Jermese Jones, Jesse Newman, Dimitri Tsoumpas, Ben Archibald, Tim O'Neill, Cody Kennedy, Nello Faulk
Analysis: The Stamps made their offensive-line plans clear in April when they selected Tsoumpas and Newman second and third, respectively, in the CFL Canadian Draft. Both men will get a chance to make the active roster as rookies while the unit potentially undergoes a transition. Pilon is the only player who started all of 2007, while Lazeo became a solid player after he joined the starting lineup in mid-season. Jones and Hall have CFL experience, so they're in the mix for jobs. Ellis has CFL starting experience, as well, while Armstrong is trying to take the next step in his development.
Returnees: Terrence Patrick, Randy Chevrier, Pat MacDonald, Miguel Robede, Marcus Parker, Eddie Freeman
Newcomers: Funtaine Hunter, Juwan Simpson, Kevin Harbour, Howard Hodges, LeMarcus Rowell
Analysis: Perhaps the area of greatest interest in camp, the defensive line could see some dramatic changes. Robede is in his third season and hasn't had a chance to prove whether he can play. He'll get that chance now, as Hufnagel might make the nose a Canadian position with Chevrier and MacDonald backing up Robede. Freeman, Parker and Hodges all have CFL experience and are competing for the other tackle spot. The Stamps have plenty of athletic ends in camp, possibly highlighted by Funtain Hunter — who had spell here on the practice roster last season as a linebacker — and Juwan Simpson. Patrick is the most experienced players on the line and the entire front should make for great camp competition.
Returnees: Shannon James, Trey Young, Neil Ternovatsky, Marc Calixte, Matt Grootegoed, Mike Labinjo, Dwaine Carpenter
Newcomers: Saleem Rasheed, JoJuan Armour, Charleston Hughes
Analysis: There's no shortage of possibilities in this unit. James is the front-runner at strong-side linebacker, following a good 2007 season. Rasheed joined the club after five seasons in the NFL and is slotted into the top spot at middle linebacker. However, Carpenter and Calixte provide options at strong-side, while Labinjo, Hughes and Ternovatsky will battle in the middle. Young finished last season as the starting weak-side linebacker and Armour was a free-agent signing brought in to compete for the spot. Grootegoed has been a special teamer to date and he's hungry for a chance to start.
Returnees: Crance Clemons, Wes Lysack, Brandon Browner, Brandon Stewart, Calvin Bannister, Markus Howell, Sean Manning, Julian Battle
Newcomers: Brandon Smith, Willie Byrd, Dwight Anderson, Richard Karikari, Dwight Ellick
Analysis: Hufnagel said he felt this unit was the most consistent part of the defence in 2007. The secondary is led by a pair of strong corners — Browner and Clemons — who have a leg up for jobs in 2008. Byrd is slotted behind Browner on the boundary side, while Howell moved over from receiver and joins Collins behind Clemons. Karikari was signed as a free agent and he'll battle Lysack and Manning for the safety spot. Battle is the incumbent at one halfback spot, while Anderson was signed from Hamlton and slotted into the other halfback position. Challengers to those jobs include Ellick, Bannister and Stewart.
Returnees: Sandro DeAngelis (K), Burke Dales, Howell (PR)
Newcomers: Banks, Montgomery, Curry, Burton, Jackson
Analysis: In DeAngelis, the Stamps have the most accurate kicker in CFL history. Dales has been among the league leaders in punting over the past two seasons. With no other kickers in camp, their assignments are simply to find form and stay healthy. Howell and Ruffin have been productive returners but plenty of candidates are in the wings.