Half measures

Who says football players are just big kids? Tyler Lynem goes for a slide on the rain-soaked turf...

Who says football players are just big kids? Tyler Lynem goes for a slide on the rain-soaked turf at McMahon Stadium during training camp Sunday, June 5, 2005. (Calgary Sun/Darren Makowichuk)

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

You can usually expect to see a starting quarterback play just one or two series in a CFL pre-season game.

With nothing to prove, the job secure and no points hanging in the balance, the No. 1 pivot just needs to get into a rhythm, moving the ball enough to make the head coach happy while getting the heck off the field before something horrible happens.

Not so for Henry Burris.

The Calgary Stampeders new starting QB needs plenty of work tomorrow night in his first appearance on the firing line, albeit without real bullets, since coming from the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a free agent.

Although the starting job is obviously his and Burris has looked sharp in camp, the affable ball-tosser is still getting acquainted with co-ordinator Steve Buratto's system, the guidance of QB coach Bill Diedrick, along with the 11 players who'll surround him this season.

Diedrick said Burris may play the full first half.

"I'd like to see him get extended play and give him the opportunity to be on the field with the same group for an extended period of time and work in game-like conditions," he said.

While Burris says two productive drives against his old Green pals would suffice, he agrees the more pre-season work he receives, the faster the revamped unit will begin realizing its potential.

"It doesn't matter to me, although I'd like do some things with the guys, have some success and get off the field," Burris says.

"The quicker we get our team together as to who's going to be here and who's not, the quicker we'll start to form some continuity."

Typically, the starting quarterback has earned his spot based on his play from the previous season in the same silks, with everyone knowing what he can do plugged into the same system. But Burris received the nod -- not to mention a hefty free-agent contract -- for his Roughriders exploits in 2004 while everything in Red and White is new and relatively untested.

Tomorrow night, he'll trot onto the field protected by a new offensive line, using relatively unfamiliar terminology, while surrounded by receivers and running backs he's never performed with prior to training camp, little more than a week old.

Even Buratto and Diedrick are fresh to the mix, making tomorrow's "exhibition game" much more than just a showy test drive of a shiny new sports car, giving anxious fans a taste of what's in store for 2005.

In Saturday's mock game, Burris provided a passable performance but clearly there is more work to be done. With the starting offence in the situational scrimmage, Burris completed 12 of 21 passes and was intercepted once.

Despite skipping his first two passes off the turf, Burris completed seven straight before serving up two wayward efforts.

Although he's already demonstrated all the potential Stamps brass saw before locking him up long-term back in February, the 30-year old CFL veteran understands the situation.

"We're going to come out and have at least a couple of possessions," Burris says.

Expect to see Burris much more than that. With the regular season just three weeks away, the time is ripe to get this offence in gear with Burris getting plenty of time behind the steering wheel.


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