Outsiders try to join circle

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

To gain entrance into the Inner Circle of linebackers, a rookie must know the secret passwords.

It's the language of Denny Creehan and the Calgary Stampeders defensive co-ordinator's Fabulous Four are fluent.

For anyone to get invited to the group of Scott Coe, Brian Clark, George White and John Grace, they must know the system, the words and be a little rough around the edges.

Rookie Jude Waddy has witnessed the foursome move about the field in practice, make a play against the first-team offence and then catch a breather on the sidelines, all in unison.

When Nos. 48 or 56 take a knee to watch the next group of linebackers work, Nos. 7 and 38 are standing right there. Or vice versa.

On a good day, they resemble a pianist's fingers, moving in different directions but achieving the same sound.

"They're a tight group," said Waddy. "They went to battle with each other last year. When they're not in the play, they're off on the sidelines doing what we should be doing as prospects -- sitting, talking, discussing the next play.

"That's what keeps them going. We should be doing that as linebackers. We should be talking with each other about what happened when we were on the field."

Knowledge of the game is one way to gain access to the Fabulous Four.

Games in the trenches are another.

But that may be the most difficult task facing rookie linebackers trying to break in with the Stampeders. There might be two backup import linebacker spots for the likes of Waddy, Cornelius Anthony, Trey Young and Frank Strong.

Somebody with decent talent will get let go but Clark said every one of the starting four fought through that situation and were successful.

"As a football player, you understand that returning guys have a sixth sense with each other," Clark said. "The vets know what to expect from each other.

"It's grown from last year. It was a whole new situation for the four of us last year. By the end of last season, we were kind of like that.

"When we all came here this spring, it started up again. It was a good fit from the very beginning. The four of us get along so well, it's enjoyable to play football with them."

While this is training camp and every job is theoretically on the line, Creehan won't be making any changes with his big four. They're too talented.

However, that doesn't mean Clark and the others don't speak with the rookies.

"We're open in meetings and if they ask a question, we won't give them a wrong answer," Clark said. "We'll help them out as much as possible. We're all starting now but we've been cut from other places. We know what it's like."

Still, Clark understands how untouchable the Fab Four look this season.

"For a rookie to beat out a veteran guy, he's going to have to be exceptional," he said.

The Stamps must get down to 50 players plus non-counters by tonight.

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EXTRA POINTS: SB Mike Juhasz (hamstring) sat out of practice yesterday but did hold for K Sandro DeAngelis ... LB Marc Mitchell and DL Michael Josiah both were out of practice yesterday with knee injuries.


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