VANCOUVER -- The crew of newcomers hoping to earn jobs with the Calgary Stampeders was tested under fire for the first time last night.
All the off-season hype about taking the next step to become a Grey Cup contender not only rests in the hands of the returnees.
A slim contingent of talented free agents and draft picks, expected to make a lasting impression, got their first shot in a 26-23 Stampeders pre-season win against the Lions at B.C. Place Stadium.
Ken-Yon Rambo hauled in a touchdown pass from Henry Burris with four seconds left in the game to give Calgary the victory.
There were plenty of blunders, as expected. Some players will be asked to turn in their playbooks and be sent home today as the team is expected to announce another round of cuts.
New backup quarterback David Corley fumbled an exchange with Rambo in the team's third drive of the game.
Corley, operating out of the shotgun, also bobbled a snap in the first series and struggled on several exchanges with centre Godfrey Ellis, who seemed to have problems with his grip. Ellis is assuming the starting job, replacing Jamie Crysdale, who owned the position for 13 seasons.
The Stampeders' third-string pivot looked best running the ball. He took off to pick up gains of 11 and 13 yards in the first quarter. The Stampeders offence showed its true potential with backup QB Danny McManus in the game. The 40-year-old McManus found newcomers Elijah Thurmon and Scotty Anderson in his opening series.
No. 1 quarterback Henry Burris didn't play until the final 10 minutes of the game, so it was up the second wave to make an impact.
Second-year Stamps running back Tony Stallings posted the best run of the night, a 27-yarder late in the first half. Stallings, fight ing for a backup job, appeared to be tackled twice but continued digging, carrying the ball to the B.C. five to set up a field goal.
The Stampeders braintrust has some of its toughest decisions on defence, where six new DBs, three linebackers and five linemen got their first looks in game action.
There will be cuts in the secondary as it was burned on a number of blown coverages.
On offence, newcomer Anthony Bright caught a 32-yard TD pass from Corley, while Rambo scored the winning TD on a pass from Burris.
The Lions had TDs from Josh Boden, on a seven-yard pass from Dave Dickenson, and a rushing score by Joe Smith. The Lions split kicking duties between Paul McCallum and Sandro Sciortino.