Thur­man play­ing like a vet­eran

Line­backer dom­i­nant com­ple­ment to part­ner Sin­gle­ton, writes Danny Austin

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - [email protected]­media.com Twit­ter.com/Dan­nyAustin_9

There’s no­body with a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how pro­duc­tive Jameer Thur­man has been this sea­son than Alex Sin­gle­ton.

The two have formed a line­backer part­ner­ship for the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers that has of­ten al­ter­nated be­tween dom­i­nant and, well re­ally, re­ally dom­i­nant.

Sin­gle­ton, the CFL’s reign­ing Most Out­stand­ing De­fen­sive Player, gets to see first hand just how much Thur­man con­tributes, and he’s not en­tirely sure why his part­ner in crime isn’t be­ing talked about as one of the league’s best.

“I think Thurm’s very un­der­rated,” Sin­gle­ton said. “He makes all the right plays, he makes all the right reads and he doesn’t miss any tack­les. To have a guy like that ex­e­cute the way he does, un­less he’s talked about like he’s one of the best in the league, he’s very un­der­rated.”

It’s a lit­tle tough to know where to be­gin when we talk about Thur­man.

It’s not like he’s sud­denly bro­ken through and has grown into his role as a piv­otal piece of the Stamps de­fence.

Thur­man did that last year, when he fin­ished his rookie sea­son with 52 de­fen­sive tack­les, 13 special teams tack­les, one sack and two in­ter­cep­tions. Those are vet­eran num­bers, and Thur­man was a huge part of the Stamps de­fence as they stopped ev­ery­one in their tracks on the way to play­ing in the Grey Cup.

This year, the 23-year-old — no, re­ally, he’s 23! — has picked up right where he left off.

Through eight games as the Stam­ped­ers’ starter, Thur­man has 31 de­fen­sive tack­les, 11 special teams tack­les and one in­ter­cep­tion.

He’s also formed a part­ner­ship with Sin­gle­ton that might be the best in the CFL.

“They al­ways have a beat on what’s go­ing on,” said Stamps line­backer coach Brent Mon­son. “(Thur­man) stud­ies real hard, he’s real good at film study, un­der­stands his op­po­nent, he’s al­ways tak­ing care of his body and is al­ways in tip-top shape. He’s got a high-level knowl­edge about the game and he and Alex just com­mu­ni­cate re­ally well and talk things out. They come in early and do ex­tra stuff.”

Given his age and the im­pact he’s hav­ing on the field, Thur­man seems like he could be a can­di­date for an NFL job next sea­son.

That’s a ques­tion for the off­sea­son, though. For now, Thur­man is prov­ing week-in and week-out that he’s an in­valu­able piece of this 7-1 Stam­ped­ers team, both on de­fence and on special teams.

“Week-to-week, I think (line­backer) is a strength of our team. Jameer also had four special teams tack­les (against the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers last weekend), so he’s do­ing a lot for us,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dick­en­son. “I think the line­backer po­si­tion is very strong, as it is for the en­tire league.

“Jameer doesn’t say a lot, but he con­sis­tently per­forms.”

Maybe that con­sis­tency is why Thur­man isn’t get­ting the recog­ni­tion he de­serves on a na­tional scale. In essence, he’s do­ing ex­actly what ev­ery­body has come to ex­pect of him af­ter only less than two sea­sons.

“Hon­estly, it’s just what he’s been do­ing for the last year and a half,” Sin­gle­ton said when he was asked to ex­plain why he and Thur­man have been so ef­fec­tive. “I think it’s just play­ing to­gether, we don’t need to com­mu­ni­cate as much be­tween plays, we just know what we’re go­ing to do. We still com­mu­ni­cate, but hav­ing that un­spo­ken com­mu­ni­ca­tion hav­ing played with each other for over a year I think it just makes things eas­ier for both of us.”

GAVIN YOUNG

Line­backer Jameer Thur­man has evolved into a key com­po­nent in the suc­cess of the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers’ de­fence this sea­son. “Jameer doesn’t say a lot, but he con­sis­tently per­forms,” says coach Dave Dick­en­son.

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