Connect with us

Football

Calgary Stampeders feel good about lineup with 2024 CFL season at hand

Published

on

Calgary club gets down to roster numbers with Ticats in town for Game 1 on Friday

Article content

The roster is shaping up quite nicely, says Dave Dickenson.

Advertisement 2

Article content

A few injuries have made for necessary tweaks, of course.

But the Calgary Stampeders are now pared to mandated numbers after the June 1 cut-down deadline and are prepared to put their lineup up against the rest of the Canadian Football League when the regular season kicks off later this week.

“You always go into the year feeling pretty good,” said Dickenson, the Stampeders GM/head coach. “Certainly we’ve had a few injuries. But we’ve had time to digest it and make a plan, and now we’ll have more (time in the next few days).

“But this is the team,” continued Dickenson. “We always look to bring in more talent, but this is your core — this is us. This is the group that will make it or break it. And we’re very hopeful that we’re going to make it.”

Advertisement 3

Article content

Dickenson & Co. begin that quest to ‘make it’ in the 2024 CFL campaign Friday, when they play host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the season opener at McMahon Stadium (7 p.m., TSN, QR Calgary).

The first-game lineup — and the 17 more to follow in the regular season — is made up of 45 active players. There are up to 13 more placed on the practice roster weekly, and then an injury list of others that will be set ahead of Friday’s start.

Some players, of course, are fresh faces for the Stampeders — most notably offensive weapons, such as running back B.J. Emmons and receivers Erik Brooks and Cam Echols, and defensive talents, in linebackers Adam Konar and defensive backs Ben Labrosse, Demerio Houston and Rodney Randle Jr.

“I believe I came in with hunger,” said Stamps newbie Echols, of earning a spot on the pass-catching crew. “I just came in and did what coach asked me to do.

Advertisement 4

Article content

“It’s sad that (fellow receiver) Malik (Henry) went down (with a season-ending patellar-tendon injury), but I had my confidence come in and take over for me,” continued Echols. “I just felt like I was just showing consistency. I just try to be a frisbee-catching dog.”

The additions, of course, come at the expense of other hopefuls and a few veterans.

And most decisions were made following one last chance to showcase their skills in Friday’s second pre-season contest — a 31-10 win over the host Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Recommended from Editorial

“I like the resiliency we showed after giving up a 109-yard punt return,” said Dickenson, of Friday’s final audition ahead of cut-down day. “Because sometimes that can break your back a little bit and you can turn really sour or negative.

Advertisement 5

Article content

“But guys just kept playing, and we ended up getting a safety (by Micah Teitz) and taking a lead into halftime and kind of took over in the second half.”

The two most surprising moves that followed a day later saw defensive backs Titus Wall and Brad Muhammad — both key fixtures on the team — cut by the club.

Wall played in 19 games in his two seasons with the team, while Muhammad appeared in 29 and was third in tackles — with 50 — for the Stamps in 2022.

“Honestly, we had some younger guys that played well,” Dickenson said. “It wasn’t that Titus (and others) didn’t. Tough decisions, though. I knew it would be. There were some guys certainly that you could feel the emotion.

“You try to make those decisions the best you can. We feel like we were able to keep a good core group together and build with some young pieces.”

Advertisement 6

Article content

The following moves were made Saturday:

Added to practice roster

• American defensive lineman Josiah Coatney
• American receiver Ishmael Hyman
• National defensive lineman George Idoko
• American defensive lineman Toby Ndukwe
• American defensive lineman Hamilcar Rashed Jr.
• American defensive back Kenyon Reed
• American defensive back Tyler Richardson
• American offensive lineman Eric Smith
• National defensive back Kaylyn St-Cyr
• Global running back Ron Tiavaasue
• American quarterback Kyle Vantrease

Suspended (returning to university, Stampeders retain rights for 2025)

• National running back Paul-Antoine Ouellette (Université de Montréal)
• National defensive back Jackson Sombach (University of Regina)

Advertisement 7

Article content

Released

• American running back LeVante Bellamy
• American linebacker Cam Bright
• American defensive lineman Jacques Bristol
• American defensive back Clifford Chattman
• American defensive lineman Will Choloh
• American defensive back Meiko Dotson
• American receiver Isaiah Epps
• National kicker Campbell Fair
• American defensive lineman Darius Hodge
• National running back Sebastian Howard
• National receiver Colton Hunchak
• National defensive back Christian Joachim
• American offensive lineman Kameron Jones
• American defensive lineman Damontre Moore
• American defensive back Brad Muhammad
• American defensive lineman Cody Roscoe
• American linebacker Shaheed Salmon
• American receiver Auden Tate
• American defensive back Josh Thomas
• American offensive lineman Chris Toth
• American defensive back Titus Wall
• American offensive lineman Brandon Weldon

Advertisement 8

Article content

“We’ve made wrong decisions in the past,” Dickenson said. “I brought it up to the team that Charleston Hughes got cut when he was a rookie. A couple weeks later, he was back and is pretty much an all-timer.

“I was happy that we had hard decisions, even though it makes your job a little tougher,” added Dickenson. “But I believe as a league there’s just better players this year. I do. I believe we have more talent coming up from the States and you can see it on the field.”

Calgary Stampeders practice
The Calgary Stampeders mingle during practice at McMahon Stadium on Monday, June 3, 2024. Brent Calver/Postmedia

SHORT YARDAGE

The Stamps returned global kicker Toshiki Sato to the roster over the weekend. The 30-year-old native of Yokohama, Japan, spent the entire 2023 season on the Stampeders’ practice roster. Sato was a second-round selection by the Toronto Argonauts in the 2021 CFL Global Draft and played one regular-season game for the Double Blue in 2021 and one pre-season contest in 2022. After playing four years at Waseda University in Tokyo, Sato suited up for IBM Big Blue in the Japanese X-League, setting a league record in 2019 with a 58-yard field goal. He then played in the Spring League for the Austin Generals in 2019 and for the TSL Aviators in 2020 … The Stampeders have unveiled a brand new, innovative seating platform — The Coors Light Corral — immersing football fans into a party atmosphere at McMahon. Located at the northwest corner of the stadium, the Coors Light Corral features two sections — The Loft and The Corral. The Loft is a corporate hosting section located in the upper tier of the Coors Light Corral, with a capacity of 70 fans and limited seating at a price of $95 per person, which includes food. The Corral is located on the lower three tiers of the Coors Light Corral, with a standing-room only capacity of 250 at a price of $25 per person. Both sections have access to $5 small cans of Coors Light — the official beer of the Stampeders — on sale during happy hour from the time doors open until kickoff. During the game, the full Molson Coors beverage lineup will be available in the Coors Light Corral. “I am thrilled to announce the launch of our innovative seating platform,” said Stampeders president Jay McNeil. “This groundbreaking initiative reflects our commitment to engaging our loyal fan base in new and exciting ways. In creating the Coors Light Corral, we’re hoping to enhance the game-day experience for our traditional fanbase and hoping to connect with new fans that are looking for a different experience. We look forward to seeing our fans connect, interact and share their passion for Stampeders football like never before.” … Tickets are on sale for all Stampeders games at www.stampeders.com.

tsaelhof@postmedia.com

X: @ToddSaelhofPM

Article content

Continue Reading