You can set your clock to the tweets.
Every year, prognosticators league-wide begin to predict the downfall of the Calgary Stampeders. Even our favourite betting site, Bodog, only has the Stampeders over-under for the season set at seven wins in this shortened 14-game season.
Then, as the season progresses, you start to see stories emerge about Calgary’s new players taking the CFL by storm and the Stamps go on to another double-digit win season.
It’s as predictable as watermelon sales at the grocery store nearest to a Riders away game.
With all that in mind, here are the things I learned from a trip to the press box at McMahon Stadium to watch practice.
Out of the backfield
Trey Williams could be a lot of trouble for opposing defences. Williams made several defenders look silly in the passing session during the Saturday afternoon practice. Crisp routes, mean jukes, and lightning speed made me think Williams could play a substantial role in the offence as a change-of-pace or outlet back.
The Texas A&M product was on the Argos’ practice roster back in 2017 then played for teams in the NFL, AAF, and XFL before landing in Calgary. Ka’Deem Carey should be the starter at running back, but I’d love to see Williams get some reps.
The gap between QB1 and QB2 is substantial. Whomever wins the backup job — and from what I’ve seen, it’s looking like it’ll be Dakota Prukop — there is still a wide gap between him and Bo Levi Mitchell.
If Mitchell has any lingering issues or is forced to miss time, the transition might be a little rougher than it was to Nick Arbuckle in 2019. Both Michael O’Conner and Jake Maier had a rougher session on Saturday and were off-target on the deeper throws.
Coach Mace may have a few gems along the defensive line. The D-line was running against the O-line at the same time as the one-on-one route-running on the other side of the field, so attention was split at best, but when I looked over, it seemed like Jarrell Owens was routinely beating blocks with more than just one move.
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy is coming north from the XFL where he collected two sacks in three games for the New York Guardians.
The position of punter is definitely not decided. The Stampeders have Cody Grace listed as the only punter, but Ronnie Pfeffer was signed in 2020 free agency to replace Rob Maver following his retirement. Maver was one of, if not the best, directional kicker in the league and replacing his ability to hit the coffin corner won’t be easy.
Charlie Power may be seriously injured. Power went down late in the session and the next day the Stampeders coaxed Calvin McCarty out of retirement to join the squad. This is pure speculation on my part, and have no confirmation internally, but the two events seem like more than a coincidence.
Stamps receiving corps should be just fine. A lot of players were making contested catches in traffic as Bo Levi Mitchell continues to rest a groin injury. Dan Williams III was the target for a few TD strikes, but on the session, multiple receivers were able to shake their respective defensive counterpoints to get open.
Sometimes a scrimmage is just a practice. The Stamps were going to be holding an up-tempo scrimmage and had refs onsite, but again ran a more positions-separated session. Live action is not until Aug. 7, so there is no rush to have it but it sure would be nice to see what the entire team’s on offense and defense can do when operating as a unit.
Injured Bo Levi Mitchell looks like an extra from a Mortal Kombat reboot. I know this isn’t the analysis you came here for, but QB1 was wearing full-length white compression pants, black shorts, white hoodie, black jersey, white headband and a black facemask at practice. I kept waiting for a voice to announce “Finish Him!” anytime a QB threw the ball in the wrong direction from the receiver’s cut.
Stampeder players had an off day on Sunday and will resume camp on Monday.