Rebuilt secondary cornerstone of Stamps’ defence
Newcomers fit right in and quickly made their presence felt, writes
EDMONTON For a general manager with a reputation for avoiding the CFL free-agent market, John Hufnagel hit a couple of home runs in early-2018.
The Calgary Stampeders president/GM entered free agency with a couple major vacancies in his defensive backfield, and came out with two CFL veterans: halfback Emanuel Davis and allaround utility man Troy Stoudermire. Both have played major roles in getting the Stamps to the Grey Cup this year.
A couple months later, American rookie Tre Roberson stepped up in a major way at training camp and claimed the team’s starting cornerback job.
“When we came into camp that’s something we all talked about, me, Troy and Tre,” Davis said. “We were the new guys here in the secondary and we wanted to be guys that contributed in a big way and not just come here and take up space.
“I feel that’s kind of what we did this year.”
That’s something of an understatement.
After the 2017 CFL season, the Stamps lost three crucial components of their defensive backs group.
Shaquille Richardson, who played SAM, signed with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, while corner Tommie Campbell joined the Montreal Alouettes and starting safety Josh Bell retired from playing and took over as the Stamps’ defensive backs coach.
Veteran halfback Jamar Wall moved to SAM this year, and Davis took over the spot Wall had previously held while Roberson took over for Campbell.
Stoudermire, meanwhile, emerged as an everything man for the Stamps and played just about wherever he was asked before an MCL injury put him on the sideline in October.
“I like the fact that we got a couple guys like that,” Bell said. “Those are guys I asked for. Troy, he’s a blue-collar worker, I’ve been knowing that since 2007 when he played at my high school. He started a prolific run of Dallas Skyline (High School) playoffs and he was the quarterback on one of those teams in ’07.
“He’s a worker. I wanted him in because I know we needed that in our room.
“(Davis), I watched him from afar. When a guy has three interception returns for a touchdown, it stands out. He understands the ‘whys’ of defence and I like veterans. He’s an extremely humble guy.”
While Davis didn’t get an all- star nod this season, everyone on the Stampeders is adamant he should have received end-of-season recognition after a first year in Calgary that saw him pick up 55 defensive tackles and a teamleading four interceptions.
Similarly, voters bizarrely passed-up on Roberson for the West Division’s Most Outstanding Rookie nomination.
It’s not something either guy is complaining about this week, though. They’re playing for the Grey Cup Sunday, after all, and beating the Ottawa Redblacks would earn them the most valuable end-of-season award of all.
“All three of those guys contributed from the word go,” said Stamps defensive tackle Micah Johnson. “I think all of them are extremely hard workers, so they just fit right into the culture of our team. Especially Emanuel Davis, what he brings to practice every day and his energy in games, he’s just a great addition. It just seems all of those guys fit right in.”
Romar Morris’ season ended in last weekend’s West Division Final when he tore his Achilles tendon.
It was a brutal break for the Stampeders kick returner, and he faces a long, arduous recovery.
On Wednesday in Edmonton, Terry Williams made sure Morris’ presence was felt by starting off the Stampeders’ practice wearing his teammate’s jersey.
“That’s my brother,” Williams said. “We’ve caught at least a million punts since training camp and to see him go down like that and see the severity, I feel for him. I’ve got to represent for my brother.”
Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson has been adamant that there’s a strong possibility his receiving group could look very different in the Grey Cup than it did in the West Final.
It’s still far too early in the week to draw any conclusions about which receivers might be in or out, but there were a few takeaways from Wednesday’s practice.
First, Eric Rogers participated. He hurt his knee in the West Final, but seemed confident he’d be good to go when he was asked before practice.
Second, Bakari Grant looked sharp. He wasn’t in the lineup against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but made a couple spectacular grabs Wednesday.
DaVaris Daniels also took lots of reps, so he shouldn’t be ruled out.
We probably won’t know who is playing until the Stampeders release their depth chart for the Grey Cup on Saturday morning.
Rookie cornerback Tre Roberson became a stalwart in the rebuilt Calgary Stampeders secondary that also includes fellow newcomers Emanuel Davis and Troy Stoudermire.