Backup battle two-man race

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

They entered training camp slotted behind Louisville's career leader in sacks and a player with a long-term relationship with the defensive-line coach.

But Terrence Patrick and Clay Roberson have emerged as the last contenders for Casey Creehan's remaining backup spot.

Hey, it's not where you've been but where you're going.

So Creehan reluctantly sent Michael Josiah and Jerame Southern home Monday, putting his faith in Patrick and Roberson.

Josiah came in with a bluster and strong credentials from Louisville. Southern was a force for Creehan while they were both at James Madison University.

Patrick and Roberson showed Creehan such a capacity for learning and an attention to detail, he had to keep both.

"These guys really progressed," said Creehan. "I told them yesterday, 'My hat's off to you.'

"We have a guy who played Div. II college, beat out a guy who was Louisville's career leader in sacks. Clay has never even played defensive end, he was a linebacker in college. He's really stepped in and played well."

With the starting linemen set -- Demetrious Maxie, Sheldon Napastuk and Rahim Abdullah -- and Canadian Randy Chevrier pencilled in as a backup nose tackle, one full-time job remains. The other won't be sent home but will be offered a practice-roster spot.

"They're both in a race right now," Creehan said. "Terrence is ahead of Clay but that's because Terrence has a little more experience at the position. But he's a guy we can develop and turn him into a heck of a player."

Both rookies have developed quickly.

Patrick didn't start playing football until his senior year of high school in Bronx. He went to Mercyhurst College with more experience playing street basketball but that all changed at the Div. II NCAA school.

After graduating a little more than a month ago, his coach, Tom Herman, contacted defensive co-ordinator Denny Creehan about his star pupil.

This may be Patrick's first pro camp but the Stampeders are happy to have found the 22-year-old.

"It was nice that Herman put a bug in their ears," Patrick said. "I didn't want to do anything else right now but play football. I'm loving it."

At 6 ft. 3 in., 240 lb., Roberson is the smallest of the Stamps defensive linemen and he's just learning the position after moving over from linebacker in college.

This is the North Carolina product's first full professional camp as well -- after participating in a free-agent workout with the Seattle Seahawks -- but Roberson wasn't intimidated by the competition.

"If anything, I love being in the underdog situation," said the 24-year-old. "I always strive to get better. Everything has been positive here. It's been a good experience."


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