Tame horses

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:38 AM ET

A flashy TV spot focusing on charismatic Stampeders QB Henry Burris shows him pounding his chest, shouting about the team's unbridled horsepower.

These guys in red are certainly a confident bunch but for now the rampaging steeds are securely locked in the corral, the Stampede to the endzone delayed another week.

Calgary's 21-15 win Thursday in Winnipeg certainly illustrates the early-season predicament.

Although the team has hit the win column and there are scads of promising signs, the offence couldn't find the scoreboard and it's doubtful the CFL's dominant clubs are shaking in their cleats to see Calgary on the schedule.

No touchdowns from the offence working against the league's doormats hardly hints of an aerial domination, while just two games into the season the Stamps are making some progress.

Burris and his cast of new receivers are still trying to "get on the same page," as he often explains it, while sometimes looking like they're reading from different playbooks. A highlight has been sure-handed Nik Lewis, last season's CFL rookie of the year, who has been dominant through two contests and posted 72 receiving yards against Winnipeg.

The running game, powered by Joffrey Reynolds, has plenty of upside and he shows potential to be as dependable as Kelvin Anderson in his heyday of the late '90s.

The defence, as usual, is continuing to build on its reputation as one of the best in the CFL. In Winnipeg, it again saved the Stampeders bacon, standing up to the Bombers in the late going while preserving the victory, although the Blue and Gold, led by neophyte starting quarterback Tee Martin, helped their cause with multiple miscues.

The Stampeders' two rookie kickers, a potential weakness coming into the season, has so far been a pleasant surprise, especially the precision of placekicker Sandro DeAngelis who has yet to misfire in seven attempts.

That said, the struggling Blue Bombers, now 0-3, showed up at the perfect juncture in the Stampeders' schedule.

If not for Kamau Peterson's ham-fisted drop of a long bomb late in the game, the Stampeders might have been dealt a shocking loss. Facing a Winnipeg quarterback in just his second CFL start was a blessing for the men in Red and White.

Peterson's botched reception is much like what Burris has had to witness from his crew of receivers. While the quarterback is heaping most of the blame on himself for the offence's early season stutter steps, high-priced free agent Jeremaine Copeland and newcomer Ken-Yon Rambo have yet to live up to expectations.

A prime example was Copeland's sporadic performance in Winnipeg, despite making six catches for 74 yards.

Late in the contest, with the Stamps scrimmaging at their own 10, Copeland made an outstanding grab to move the ball out to the 25 while gaining a crucial first down.

It was the type of big-time reception management paid for when signing the high-calibre free agent in the off-season. But on the next play, a perfect strike from Burris hit Copeland in the mitts before clanking to the ground.

Copeland has more to offer.

Rambo also caught three balls for 21 yards but stumbled and fell at the goal-line in the first quarter as the ball went zinging past his ear, killing what looked like an early touchdown drive.

Burris made plenty of wayward tosses but can't be faulted for that kind of inconsistency from his receiving corps. He completed 17 of 34 passes for 209 yards.

After suffering a tough loss against the Grey Cup champion Argos in Week 1, Winnipeg's lacklustre offence and special teams miscues was just the medicine for a Stampeders club still trying to find its stride.

With 16 games remaining, there's plenty of time to let the horses run wild.


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