Grace leads Fab Four

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

There will be no Grey Cup championship for the Stampeders this season but the team's CFL player award nominees have reason to celebrate.

John Grace (most outstanding and defensive player) and Nik Lewis (outstanding rookie and special teams player) both have a shot at earning West Division nominations.

"To win an individual award is a great honour," Grace said yesterday.

"As a player, you always want to be recognized as one of the best but, without a Grey Cup ring, it's kind of bittersweet."

Other Stampeders nominated are linebacker Scott Coe (Canadian) and right guard Jay McNeil (lineman).

Grace, acquired from Ottawa in an off-season trade, earned CFL defensive player-of-the-week honours four times this season and was August's defensive player of the month.

"The coaches put us in the right positions, the guys did their jobs and it just so happens I was in a position to make some plays," said Grace, who leads the Stamps with seven quarterback sacks and is second with three interceptions.

B.C. quarterback Casey Printers is the odds-on favourite to claim the West nomination for most outstanding player but Grace, a linebacker in Calgary's impressive three-four defence, could earn the nod as top defensive player.

"When you look at our (training camp) roster and you look at the names they had on there, you knew it was going to be competitive at the linebacker position," Grace said. "To have guys like Brian Clark, who's an all-star, Scott Coe, who's going to be an all-star, and George White, who's also an all-star, playing beside you, it makes your job easy because there's no one guy (opposing teams) can key on."

Lewis' rookie season in the Stampeders receiving corps has been a pleasant surprise. He leads the club with 67 catches for 961 yards and eight TDs.

"I've always been underestimated by people, so I just needed an opportunity to do what I can do." said Lewis, 22, who could draw interest from NFL teams as he enters his option year.

Lewis also collected 385 yards in punt returns for a 12.4-yard average.

The CFL team nominees are selected by 45 voting members of the Football Reporters of Canada. The Stamps nominees were selected by five representatives from this region.


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