Pivotal move

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:24 AM ET

Henry Burris won't be settling into his new Bridgeland digs until Monday, although he's already making himself at home in Calgary.

The freshly minted Stampeders starting quarterback is enjoying relaxed workouts with some of his new teammates, familiarizing himself with the playbook while getting a jump on the 2005 CFL season.

With training camp just two weeks away, any extra work to gain an edge is intended to pay off in the long haul.

"We've been working out in Houston, we've worked out here in Calgary, we've been working together for the past couple of months now, so we're way ahead of the curve," said Burris, 29, who's anticipating the arrival of free-agent receiver Jeremaine Copeland and last season's top rookie Nik Lewis.

"Now everybody's coming up here. Copeland will be here next week, and Nik, so we'll start getting together with those guys, getting the timing down. Once we all start learning the offence, we'll be going into training camp right on top of things."

Copeland, along with Burris, made headlines in February by signing with a Stampeders squad retooling after three disappointing seasons.

While the two are still just getting to know each other, Burris contends their relationship is crucial for the Stamps to re-ignite an offence that was lukewarm at best in 2004.

"I know Jeremaine mainly from playing against each other," Burris said of the former Alouettes standout. "We had a real good time here when he signed and we hung out a lot. He's a real good guy and I look forward to playing with him.

"It's real important to build that communication factor. Communication is the number one way to achieve success between the quarterback and the receivers. When we can see things and be on the same page, not have to signal each other, just with eye contact, there's no way to stop that.

"Once players get to know each other, they develop much more respect and the thing is, the more you connect with players emotionally on and off the field, that bond is stronger than anything.

"You'll go that extra mile for each other and that's what building a team is all about and that's what we're going to do."

Burris and Copeland are obviously two key additions among a multitude of new faces inhabiting the Stampeders locker-room this season.

Although optimism is at an all-time high, Burris cautions against suggesting the high-profile changes guarantee success. The pivot said chemistry must be developed to transform potential into production.

"It's just something we do and we've been in the game long enough to know that the teams that achieve success are the teams that love each other on and off the field," Burris suggested.

"They hang out, they eat together, their families get to know one another and build that emotional relationship. Physically, everybody gets to know one another but do they really get to know one another? If you can trust your teammates in every situation, on and off the field, you don't even think about it.

"Those are things we're going to have to overcome quickly so that when we step on the field, we're going to have fun, focus on the job and trust each other and expect each other to do our jobs."

At his off-season home in Houston, Burris had been working with running back Joffrey Reynolds, a native of Tyler, Tex.

A late arrival to the Stamps last season, Reynolds is pencilled in as the starting tailback for '05.

"We've worked hand-in-hand a lot," said Burris, already anticipating the season-opener July 1 against the defending Grey Cup champion Argonauts.

"Protection, running game, passing game, we do everything together and so he's one of the main guys I've had the opportunity to work with. I'm looking forward to playing with Joffrey.

"We're all getting to know each other, it's just a matter of developing relationships and that will come in the next month leading up to the opener against Toronto."


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