DaVaris Daniels could be next to thrive at ‘X’

‘X’ marks the spot for receivers seeing the most targets in Calgary’s offence.

Since Bo Levi Mitchell became the Stamps full-time starting quarterback, Marquay McDaniel (75 targets in 2014), Eric Rogers (135 targets in 2015) and then Kamar Jorden lined up at the boundary slotback position.

DaVaris Daniels now joins that group.

With Jordan (knee) injured, head coach and offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson decided to move Daniels from ‘W’ to ‘X’.

It will be the first ever start for the Notre Dame product at slotback. He played exclusively wide receiver in college and since joining the Stampeders, except for some slot action the last time Calgary played at BMO Field.

“In the Grey Cup last year DaVaris played a little bit off the line and looked good when he did it,” Mitchell says. “I’ve always thought KJ and DaVaris were switched, KJ looked more like a natural ‘W’ and DaVaris looked like a natural ‘X’.”

Marken Michel, who was a revelation in Week 6 – six catches for 190 yards and one touchdown – takes over for Daniels at boundary receiver.

“Marken has learned ‘W’ and basically strictly ‘W’. It’s easier for him to go in and play ‘W’ than it is to leave Davaris at ‘W’ and try and make Marken learn ‘X’,” Mitchell explains.

“Davaris is a guy that can basically play all the positions on the field, so it’s beneficial to have him there.”

That boundary slot spot sees the most targets in the league, regardless of the team – S.J. Green, for example, leads the league with 60 passes thrown his way. Jorden tops the Stampeders with 49 targets.

“That’s how our offence works the ‘X’ does get a lot of balls,” Daniels says.

With Calgary on a short week after trouncing Hamilton Saturday and traveling to Toronto for the Week 7 matchup against the Argos, one real practice is all that Daniels had to prepare for his starting debut at slot. It’s a maneuver that could boost production from the sophomore CFLer.

After bursting on the CFL scene in late August last season, Daniels finished with 885 yards and nine touchdowns on 51 catches in 11 games. 2017 has seen a dip in that level, so far, 18 receptions for 285 yards and one touchdown in five games.

“Last year at this point I was on the practice roster and I had zeroes across the board,” Daniels recalls.

That’s a similar timeline to Eric Rogers, the league’s leading receiver in 2015 (1,448 yards and 10 touchdowns). Rogers went from the practice roster to breaking out late in 2014 and parlayed that into an exceptional year after that – in the boundary slot.

“We’re different players, but the amount of success that he had definitely raises my eyes and makes me excited about playing the position,” Daniels says.

Being closer to the quarterback and have fewer players on that side are two main positives to being at boundary slot. Special receivers have the ability to take over games from that position and Mitchell believes Daniels can do that. And it’s almost like he planned for it by bulking up – power lifting with his dad, former NFL defensive lineman Phillip Daniels in the off-season – adding 15 pounds, which should help in the transition.

Mitchell likes the fact Daniels has added some thickness and it would appear the two are already in sync since the change: both men were wearing Stampeder red coloured shoes for the trip to Toronto.

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