Re­built sec­ondary cor­ner­stone of Stamps’ de­fence

New­com­ers fit right in and quickly made their pres­ence felt, writes

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - Danny Austin. [email protected]­media.com twit­ter.com/Dan­nyAustin_9

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.”

PAY­ING TRIB­UTE

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.”

NO AN­SWERS

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.

JEFF MCIN­TOSH/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Rookie cor­ner­back Tre Rober­son be­came a stal­wart in the re­built Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers sec­ondary that also in­cludes fel­low new­com­ers Emanuel Davis and Troy Stou­d­er­mire.

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