Every year, the CFL conducts a series of conference calls with all nine teams leading up to the opening of training camp. They invite a few local journalists as well as some of the national types to ask questions of team leadership, usually the general manager and the head coach, sometimes a key player. While the format is rather stilted – “press one on your telephone keypad if you have a question” – there are usually one or two or five tidbits that come out of it. Sometimes there’s big news.
Anyway, those calls got underway on Wednesday with the Calgary Stampeders hitting leadoff and general manager John Hufnagel, head coach Dave Dickenson and quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell taking questions.
Roy Finch was addressed, but here’s what else we learned:
1. Conventional wisdom has national defensive back Tunde Adeleke pencilled in as the starter at safety in 2018.
“We did sign Adam Berger, we would have signed him back when he was a free agent a few years ago but at that point, we were going American. We’re going to start with the best player. We like Tunde, we think he’s got great knowledge. We don’t need to necessarily be locked into Canadian though. We’ve got some flexibility,” Dickenson said.
“We liked what Tunde did though. He’s a guy that exceeded our expectations. Always like to have options and not necessarily lock us into one ratio.”
2. Standout defender Shaquille Richardson left the Stampeders to sign in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders which leaves a spot open at the strongside linebacker position.
“We’ve got a couple things in mind. Tunde played there so will take a look at that. We’ve got Jamar Wall we’re going to take a peek at. But we’re going to make sure we’re versatile. The knowledge is the toughest part about that position. We do a lot with that position. Certainly a question mark, but one we think we have the guys in the building that can do it and potentially might be able to find a real gem down in Florida here in a couple weeks,” Dickenson said.
3. Terry Williams is the favourite to assume the starting running back role from Jerome Messam. Dominique Williams was expected to be in the mix.
“Dom decided not to accept our contract offer and we have not further communication at this time,” Dickenson said.
“It’s wide open. Obviously, Terry does some good things. We’ll have lots of new faces and we feel like we’ve been a good team running the ball for many, many years, we’ll find a good back, there are some out there we’ve got our eyes on. Competition usually the cream rises, so let’s see one of these guys that can rise.”
4. Marquay McDaniel was released and there was speculation part of that was due to the fact the Stamps felt Eric Rogers might come back north, but Hufnagel has not had conversations with Rogers “of late.”
“At the beginning of the year, before free agency started, we had contact. Our receiver coach Pete Costanza keeps more in contact with Eric than I do. Eric still has the NFL hope and until he comes to grips with that, whether he gets an opportunity or not we’ll just have to see,” Hufnagel said.
5. Fellow receiver Kamar Jorden fumbled in the Grey Cup on a play that turned the game completely upside down. However, enough time has passed and Dickenson believes Jorden will bounce back.
“I told him, he did a nice job of owning it, but let’s move forward,” Dickenson said.
“We like him as a player, I think he could have a real big year if we can keep him healthy. When he’s healthy he’s right up there with the top guys.”