There won't be a revolving door on the Stampeders locker-room this season, a drastic departure from the recent past.
Tom Higgins, senior v.p. of football operations, said yesterday if his staff has done its homework, he'll build his 40-man roster from the 76 players in camp, flying in as few recruits as possible as the CFL season progresses.
"We look to have enough players around that, should an injury occur, somebody is right there to step on up," said Higgins, entering his first year in charge of the Stampeders.
"We're establishing that the players who start with us through training camp are the players we'd like to have at the end of the football season. That's critical to success.
"The moment you have to bring athletes in during the middle of the season is when you start having some trouble because they don't have the basic fundamentals. That's not to say that during the middle of the season we won't look at some other athletes in order to see where they stack up with our players. That's a great tool for us in which to evaluate players because you're comparing apples to apples with the players we have."
When training camp kicks off Sunday, the most heated competition is expected in the secondary and among the receivers, two glaring weaknesses last season.
Other important competitions will be at the kicking spots and backup quarterback positions behind starter Henry Burris.
The team has brought 11 new defensive backs into camp, including prized free-agent import Anthony Malbrough, whose starting position at field halfback is almost assured. The other four positions are wide open, while incumbents are corners Nate Terry and Jeremy Pearl along with halfback Joey Boese and safety Terrence Moore, all imports.
Rashard Anderson, a first-round NFL pick in 2000, is the most prominent newcomer competing at cornerback. The 6-ft., 2-in. Jackson State University product is touted as one of the finest defensive players ever produced by that school.
At receiver, import free agent Jeremaine Copeland and rookie-of-the-year Nik Lewis are locked in. Six import receivers have also signed on for training camp, many with NFL experience. James Hickenbotham, MarTay Jenkins, Tywan Mitchell, Kenyatta Morgan, KenYon Rambo and James Terry will be catching passes while trying to catch the eye of the Stampeders staff.
Jenkins spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, making 32 catches for 518 yards in 2001 while providing explosive kickoff returns.
Three non-import kickers will be hoofing the leather, looking for the job held by import Clinton Greathouse at the end of last season, positions the Stamps dearly want to place in the hands of Canucks.
While Mount Allison rookie Mark Irvin will be competing for both jobs, punter Burke Dales of Concordia and placekicker Sandro DeAngelis, a Niagara Falls native who played college ball at Nebraska, are also in the hunt for those jobs.
FAN FRIENDLY: The Stamps yesterday announced a handful of new fan initiatives. The team, along with the Concorde Group, will be distributing 500 season tickets (200 red, 300 blue) to children in need through the Kids Up Front Foundation, Variety Club and Big Brothers and Big Sisters each year for the next three seasons.
PEPSI ZONE: The Stamps and Pepsi have launched the Pepsi Date Zone for the 2005 CFL season. The alcohol-free zone targets fans ages 16-19 and will be open for six of the 10 home games this season (June 7, Aug. 6, Aug. 12, Sept. 22, Oct. 1 and Oct. 14). There will be 325 pairs of tickets distributed through New York Fries locations in Calgary and through the Pepsi Spotter program.
GRACIOUS CONTRIBUTION: Stampeders all-star linebacker John Grace, under the sponsorship of Shaganappi Chevrolet, has contributed single-game tickets to New Life Centre Ministry in support of children who would otherwise be unable to attend games. Grace will distribute 25 white section tickets to seven of nine Calgary home games (200 tickets for the season) to kids involved with the ministry.
SAVING MONEY: Both Safeway (10,000) and Sport Chek (7,500) will be selling tickets to Stampeders home games this season at 44% below the regular price.
ADDED -- DL Rahim Abdullah (Edmonton), DB Rashard Anderson (NFL), LB Cornelius Anthony (NFL), LB Bryant Brown, QB Henry Burris (Sask.), QB Giovanni Carmazzi, (B.C.), DB Jermaine Chatman (NFL), DL Randy Chevrier (NFL), OL John Comiskey (Windsor), WR Jeremaine Copeland (Montreal), P Burke Dales (Montreal), K Sandro DeAngelis, DB Lawrence Deck (Sask), OL David Delaperralle (Ottawa), DB Nashville Dyer (NFL), OL Godfrey Ellis (Acadia), OL Alexandre Gauthier (Ottawa), QB Jason Gesser (NFL), DB Brandon Heaney (NFL), LB David Hewson (Manitoba), WR James Hickenbotham (Sask.), K Mark Irvin (Ottawa), WR MarTay Jenkins (NFL), LB Michael Josiah (NFL), Ol Kyler Jukes (Regina), DB Benjamin Kelly (NFL), QB Darnell Kennedy (Ottawa), RB Jacques Lambala (St. Mary's), DL Tim MacDonald (St. Mary's), SB Brendan Mahoney (Toronto), DB Anthony Malbrough (Ottawa), DB Don McGee (NFL Europe), WR Tywan Mitchell (NFL), WR Kenyatta Morgan (NFL), DL Terrence Patrick (Mercyhurst), OL Trent Poitras (Regina), WR Brett Ralph (Alberta), WR KenYon Rambo (NFL), LB Clay Roberson, (NFL), DB Damony Simmons (Calgary), DL Jerame Southern (James Madison), RB Tony Stallings (AFL2), DB Marcus Stenix (Midwestern State), WR James Terry (NFL), LB Jude Waddy (NFL), DB Trey Young (U of Montana).
GONE -- LB Bill Chamberlain (released), WR Wane McGarity, (released), RB Randy Bowles, (released) QB Tommy Jones, (released), QB Khari Jones, (released), K Clinton Greathouse, K Charlie Hebert, (released) OL Seth Dittman, (released), OL Greg Schaefer, (released), DL Garrett Smith, (released), LB Joe Bonaventura, (released), DB Milo Lewis, (released), DB Omar Evans (traded to Wpg).