Hangin' is key to chemistry

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Stampeders receivers eager for Khari Jones to call their number in the huddle should heed the quarterback's advice -- call his number, too.

Whether it's to have a beer after a game, watch a movie or just hang out, the Stamps pivot notes off-field chemistry can develop into on-field production.

And you need only look to Winnipeg for proof of the phenomenon.

Bombers receivers Milt Stegall and Robert Gordon spent as much time with Jones away from the stadium as on the field and the resulting numbers were indisputable.

Stegall caught passes for more than 1,000 yards in each of Jones' four full seasons in Winnipeg (2000-03) while he led the CFL in pass reception yards and touchdown in '02, his league MVP season.

Gordon's best year was a 1,395-yard campaign in 2000, Jones' first season in Winnipeg, while he averaged more than 15 yards per grab in 2001 and more than 19 yards per catch last season.

"It's no coincidence that the guys I really developed that rapport with in Winnipeg, I really did hang out with off the field," Jones said. "They'd be at my house a lot and we'd do things together.

"Hopefully, I can develop some of that with these guys. You don't have to go out all the time but you have to like the guys you're playing with and I really like these guys (with the Stampeders).

"I've probably thrown at least 10, probably 20 touchdowns to Milt where the play wasn't called for him. Maybe it wasn't even a passing play but he and I were on the same page, saw the same things and that's all that mattered and we were able to make good things happen. Once you develop a kinship and a good feeling like that, you're free to do almost anything out there on the field."

Chemistry can develop quickly between some players or take years to evolve. Sometimes, it never happens.

"It varies," said Jones, who has already hooked up with receiver Sulecio Sanford to help the Stamps rookie post a 100-yard game against the Argos.

"A guy like Milt and I developed it pretty quickly. Him and Robert were probably the quickest that I've developed a good thing with.

"Now, I'm feeling some of the same things with some of the guys here. Sulecio and Nik Lewis are very good. Wane McGarity, I'm learning new things about him all the time. He runs great routes and he's a guy I'm really excited about getting the ball to some more.

"We're still just getting the running game going. It takes a while but as long as I'm still confident with everybody, that's good."

Jones and the Stamps face the QB's former teammates in Winnipeg tomorrow night for their season finale.

The club's high-priced acquisition would love to light up the scoreboard but is cautiously handling queries about staring down the team that deemed him expendable.

"I just want to go out there and play a good football game," insisted Jones, who led the Bombers to the division final his first year in Winnipeg before losing the Grey Cup game to Calgary the following November, when Jones was also named CFL MVP.

"I think I played pretty well when I was there. I felt pretty confident in what I did and how I helped the team and what we did as a team. Now I just want to go out there and help this team as much as I can.

"I'm very happy where I am. I think we have things going in the right direction and I just want to end the season on a good note and get ready for next season."

And nothing would develop chemistry with his new teammates more quickly than a convincing win against his old team.


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