Bakari Grant did some wind sprints on his own after the first practice back in the thin Calgary air even though he admitted to being addicted to working out.
The veteran receiver signed a contract for the remainder of the 2018 season on Monday.
“We’ve been talking for about six weeks, it had to be the right fit, he’s not here to be a practice roster guy. So when he came up six weeks ago we had some guys, as it played out it was come up, we’ll get you get you paid, but also be ready to play as soon as possible,” Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson said.
Grant joked about how close the playoffs were – read: bonus money – in being a factor for joining the Stamps.
“We’ve been talking for a little bit, but the time felt right. We worked it out I talked to Dave and Huf and Pete and told them where I was coming from and they told me where they were coming from and it worked out perfect,” Grant said.
Other CFL teams inquired about Grant’s services prior to his final decision.
“There were other offers. I had some stuff to take care of at home: my family has become a big priority for me. So I had to make sure that was the right fit and when I got the green light I took it and ran back,” Grant said.
Grant played the 2016 season in Cowtown registering 44 receptions for 625 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games. After Calgary elected to spend its free agent money on Marquay McDaniel the financials did not work in Grant’s favour, which is part of the reason why he ended up in Saskatchewan.
Despite producing the first 1,000-yard season – 84 receptions for 1,033 yards and five touchdowns – in 2017, Grant was released by the Riders prior to the start of the 2018 regular season. However, Grant was not caught off guard by Saskatchewan cutting him.
“No, I don’t know if you can be surprised by anything that happens over there. So, no,” Grant said.
Calgary hosts the Riders on Saturday with a chance to clinch the West Division title. There is a chance Grant could play.
“When you come into Calgary and you haven’t been here it does seem like you’ve been a little light on your wind. He ran around a lot. Looks like the same guy that we had a few years ago, so that’s a good thing,” Dickenson said.
“I want him to be ready this week, I think he actually could be, but I’m not sure I’m going to go that way.”
Learning the playbook is the focus for Grant and his head coach, the concepts are largely the same from 2016 but verbiage is new.
“It always changes but I mean just the language, but the way we interact and how we can talk over – I can even tell him this used to be a different word like this and it helps him remember what it is,” Dickenson said.
“We’ve changed a lot of our wording with all these live mic games too, so that’s had to play into it. He’s a very smart guy, always has been, he’ll be ready to go.”
Because all of the normal receiver numbers are taken in Calgary – all the 80’s, single digits and teens – Grant was wearing a number he’s never worn before: No. 20.
“I love it,” Grant said.
“I think it’s a representation of the year and what it took to get me up here, so I’m going to rock it.”