Nik hopes for less attention

A little jersey tug doesn't slow down Calgary Stampeders sophomore receiver Nik Lewis during a...

A little jersey tug doesn't slow down Calgary Stampeders sophomore receiver Nik Lewis during a training camp session Monday, May 30, 2005. (Calgary Sun/Mike Drew)

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

As a rookie in 2004, everything receiver Nik Lewis provided was a pleasant surprise.

Leading the Calgary Stampeders in receptions (72), receiving yards (1,045) and TDs, (eight) in his maiden voyage in the CFL served as an unlikely prelude to the youngster winning rookie-of-the-year honours.

To do it all despite playing for the league's worst team while catching passes from four different starting QBs made the feat even more impressive.

Now the new-look Stampeders expect extra production and Lewis is eager to comply. That's an especially attractive proposition this season with the addition of star free agent Jeremaine Copeland and a handful of former NFLers, including former Dallas Cowboy Ken-Yon Rambo.

A vastly improved receiving corps, coupled with the powerful arm of Henry Burris, should provide Lewis with even more opportunities to shine, according to offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto.

"The more talent you have around you, the more difficult it is for the defence to deal with you," he explained.

"They have to make decisions and it's always easier when you have other playmakers around you.

"He's a very good football player and probably has as good a pair of hands as I've ever seen.

"He's got great change of direction, runs well and is a very positive person who we expect a lot from this year."

Lewis is also buying into the notion a top-notch group of receivers will force defences to provide him with more room in his sophomore year.

"It will allow us to spread the ball out, get the ball to a lot of different receivers this season and all have great years," said Lewis, who turns 23 Friday.

"With Henry in there, we'll all do good.

"I think 1,000 yards is every receiver's goal, at least.

"Of course, I hope for that much but we just need to win and, if we're winning, I think I'll be big part of this offence. If we win, I'm going to get mine and that's just part of winning.

"You don't know until the season starts but then we'll see.

"I think we could have five or six reach 1,000 yards.

"They've brought in some great athletes who work hard and don't come in and think they're automatically starters and don't think they'll take over. They're going to work hard and earn a spot."

If Lewis continues performing at last year's pace, the Southern Arkansas product -- who's entering his option year -- is bound to draw some NFL interest. Not only does he provide sure hands but an added ability to fight for yards after the catch makes him even more attractive south of the border.

For now, his only concern is earning his keep in training camp and providing a lively target for Burris once the season begins July 1 against Toronto.

"I don't think about that," Lewis says.

"I know if everything goes well and I handle my business, come out fast and work hard every day, put together great games, everything else will take care of itself."


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