Four position battles to watch in the Calgary Stampeders’ preseason finale

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Fans will want to keep a copy of the Calgary Stampeders’ roster handy when they visit the B.C. Lions for their preseason finale on Thursday evening.

Ka’Deem Carey, Reggie Begelton, and Malik Henry won’t dress on the offensive side of the ball, neither will any of the five projected starters along the offensive line. All four starters along the defensive line will have the night off as well along with impact players like Cameron Judge, Tre Roberson, and Jonathan Moxey.

Bringing a young lineup to Vancouver will allow Calgary to assess who will earn valuable back up roles, special teams spots, and win the few remaining position battles ahead of the regular season. Here’s a look at what to watch this week.

Backup quarterback

Logan Bonner is currently the fourth-ranked quarterback on the depth chart but he’s arguably been the most impressive backup in training camp. He shone in the club’s annual inter-squad game and threw for 71 yards and a touchdown in the club’s preseason opener against the Edmonton Elks.

Tommy Stevens isn’t going anywhere as the club’s short yardage specialist. He runs brilliantly and has a big arm, as evidenced by a 55-yard completion in the Red and White game. Until his short game improves, however, he may once again end up as the third passer on the depth chart as was a year ago behind Jake Maier and Bo Levi Mitchell.

Chris Reynolds is an intriguing talent who left UNC Charlotte after breaking nearly every school passing record. He’s been solid in game action but has lacked the flash of Bonner. He’s ahead of Bonner on the depth chart due to his performance in practice but will need to prove he can translate that success to the field in a game setting.

Canadian receiver

Jalen Philpot is out indefinitely after undergoing hamstring surgery and it appears his starting spot will go to Cole Tucker, Clark Barnes or Rysen John.

Tucker, the club’s first-round pick in the 2023 CFL Draft, has found plenty of open space in limited reps so far with the offence and has learned quickly since signing partway through camp following a tryout with the Minnesota Vikings. He had a nice catch and run against the Elks as well as an impressive drive in the Red and White game during which he made three consecutive catches.

Barnes was taken in the third round of this year’s draft and caught a wide open touchdown pass from Tommy Stevens in the club’s preseason opener. He’s had an impressive camp and is currently listed as a starter this week. He knows the Canadian game well from his time at the University of Guelph and also has experience as a returner, bringing four back for touchdowns during his tenure with the Gryphons.

John won Most Valuable Player at Simon Fraser University in 2019 before heading to the New York Giants’ practice squad in 2020. Having now exhausted his NFL opportunities, John has yet to make his first catch in the Canadian game but presents a significant size mismatch for opposing defences at six-foot-seven.

Return policy

If Ka’Deem Carey and Dedrick Mills are healthy, Peyton Logan will be the primary returner for the Stampeders this season. However, Calgary is trying all kinds of options at returner as injuries wreaked havoc on the position last year. Things got so bad at one point that even veteran slotback Reggie Begelton was pressed into action.

A shifty returner with blazing speed and escapability, Logan is a threat to score every time he gets the ball. It will take a very special performance for another player to dislodge him from that role given Philpot’s injury but the Stamps have successfully mined for gold before in this spot.

Begelton, Henry, then who?

Last season, the question was who would be the third American receiver behind Begelton and Kamar Jorden and Malik Henry filled the role admirably, developing into a legitimate threat and one of the league’s best receivers.

With Jorden not being re-signed for the 2023 season, Tre Odums-Dukes and Allen Floyd will start against B.C. to get a shot working alongside quarterback Jake Maier, who is one few offensive starters suiting up for the game. Both targets will look to develop quick chemistry with the club’s starting passer.

Odums-Dukes got reps last season and made 11 catches for 112 yards and one touchdown in four games. He also had nice touchdown taken out of his hands at the last second in the Red and White game.

Ryan Ballantine is a lifelong Stamps fan and host of the Horsemen Radio Podcast. He has been covering the team since 2008.