Sixth sense

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

Tom Higgins put the finishing touches on the 2005 Calgary Stampeders and had to smile when he marked Brett Ralph's name down.

After paring his roster to the required 40, the Stamps head coach has found a professional football player in the club's last selection in this year's Canadian College Draft.

"That's the great story out of this -- a sixth-round draft pick makes the team," Higgins said, beaming.

"But it wasn't a gift. He made his way on the 40-man roster."

The team released 11 players yesterday, including slotback Blake Machan, who lost his spot to Ralph -- a 5-ft. 9-in. slotback whose older brother is Edmonton Eskimos receiver Brock Ralph.

Machan, a third-year Canadian from the U of C, looked like a lock early in camp after recovering from shoulder surgery that ended his 2004 season.

He may still take a practice-roster spot and could be activated because of injuries.

Two other draft choices this spring -- offensive linemen Godfrey Ellis and John Comiskey -- have also made the team. Fourth-round pick Kyler Jukes was cut and offered a practice roster spot.

Third-string quarterback Ben Dougherty was also released, leaving Henry Burris and Jason Gesser the only pivots remaining.

Sources say the Stamps plan to bring in former University of Memphis pivot Danny Wimprine, who spent time in the Edmonton Eskimos training camp.

The 23-year-old QB has been described as a "younger Danny McManus" by Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia.

Wimprine, waived by the NFL Cleveland Browns earlier this month, will have time to absorb a new playbook as the Stampeders have a first-week bye and won't play their first regular-season game until July 1 at home against Toronto.

Higgins insisted he will not pursue former Stamps starter Khari Jones, who was released yesterday by the Eskimos.

"We feel we have the roster and we don't think we need to make any changes," Higgins said.

Import defensive backs Nate Terry, who started at corner a year ago, and Rashard Anderson were also shown the door. Anderson came into camp with strong credentials after several seasons in the NFL with Carolina.

But Terry and Anderson were outplayed by Ben Kelly and Jermaine Chatman.

When camp started, Higgins felt the biggest question marks were the backup QB, the kicking game and the secondary.

Gesser has impressed the coaching staff with his poise and ability, although he didn't see much action in the two exhibition games.

Placekicker Sandro DeAngelis and punter Burke Dales have done quite well, with DeAngelis perfect through pre-season.

And in Kelly, Chatman and safety Don McGee, Higgins said he has found the talent to stabilize the secondary.

"We have addressed the issues, so now it's just a matter of going out and executing," Higgins said. "If we have the right attitude and continue to work hard, we will get better."

Higgins said the Stamps are starting something great in 2005 and if there was a huge surprise in camp, it was the attitude of the players.

"How hard they were willing to work and work with each other," Higgins said.

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EXTRA POINTS: The Stamps also cut DB Damony Simmonds, DB Jacoby Shepherd, LB Christian Simmerling, WR James Terry, RB Tony Stallings and DL Clay Roberson ... Up to six players can join the practice roster, which head coach Tom Higgins expects to announce Tuesday.


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