Look who's No. 2

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Jason Gesser is an injury away from becoming the Calgary Stampeders' starting quarterback after being officially promoted yesterday to the No. 2 job.

Based on his steady work in Tuesday's opening pre-season game and a disappointing outing by fellow backup Darnell Kennedy, Gesser has squeezed into the co-pilot's seat while Kennedy has been jettisoned.

While the starting role is securely in the hands of prized free agent Henry Burris, Gesser has made a dramatic impression in the opening 12 days of camp and the lone pre-season game, said head coach Tom Higgins.

"Jason, from the very moment he stepped onto the scene here, has skyrocketed," said Higgins, listing Gesser's leadership, vision and an ability to get the ball to the receiver as reasons for the promotion.

"Maybe Darnell didn't stay with him or stayed where he was and now we feel we had to pull the trigger because, in our minds, Jason is now our No. 2 quarterback. I still think somebody could give Darnell a shot."

Newcomer Ben Dougherty of Florida A&M, who still hasn't had time to unpack his suitcase, is No. 3.

Entering the fourth quarter against Saskatchewan for his first CFL look, Gesser completed five of eight passes, all to Nik Lewis, for 59 yards in four possessions.

Gesser said his play is "getting there."

"I've still got a lot to learn and need a lot more experience," said the impressive Washington State product, whose final pre-season test comes Thursday in Vancouver.

"I can slow the game down a lot more for myself but improving comes one step at a time and that was just one step."

Although Gesser fumbled the ball on his first possession, he never committed a turnover despite being drenched by a driving rain that hampered the contest.

His opening possession was his only scoring drive of the night, capped by a 30-yard Sandro DeAngelis field goal.

Kennedy struggled, completing five of 12 passes for 28 yards while also tossing an interception in the red zone.

While protecting the football was a crucial component of Gesser's first test, collecting first downs and finding the scoreboard also bodes well for the 27-year-old.

"You've got to make plays at the same time," said Gesser. "It's not just a matter of handing the ball off or protecting the ball and being real secure. At the same time, you have to move the chains and put points on the board."


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