It's the Battle of Alsberta

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Only one Calgary Stampeder was thrilled a month ago when the Eskimos receiving corps -- already the best in the CFL -- added another pair of valuable hands.

Jeremaine Copeland's eyes lit up when old pal and former Montreal teammate Kwame Cavil was dealt to the Alberta capital.

"I loved it -- he's closer to me now and he's like my little brother. We've known each other for a long time," Copeland, 28, said after yesterday's final preparations for the Labour Day Classic.

Cavil said Copeland took the rookie under his wing in 2002 as the Alouettes marched to a Grey Cup title.

"It was like that when I was first coming up to Montreal," said Cavil, 26.

"They put him with me to show me the ropes, so that's the type of relationship we've got. Plus he is older, not too much but I was like his little brother there."

Copeland said he expected his own departure from Montreal as a free agent in February would allow Cavil to see more leather. But just the opposite happened. Cavil grabbed just 11 balls for 118 yards before being shipped to the Igloo.

"I didn't think he was getting the balls thrown his way in Montreal that he deserved this season after the performance he put on last year," Copeland said. "I thought me leaving would allow him to step up and be the No. 1 or No. 2 guy along with Ben (Cahoon) and that didn't happen."

The former University of Texas Longhorn adds another dimension to the Eskimos sure-handed brigade that includes Jason Tucker, Derrell (Mookie) Mitchell, newcomer Trevor Gaylor and the injured Ed Hervey.

"It's like they really didn't need me but now I'm just happy to be with such a good team, a good quarterback and strong offensive situation," said Cavil, who intended to hook up with his former teammate for dinner last night.

"Slowly but surely, I'm working my way into the offence more and more.

"I have no idea what happened to me in Montreal. I knew my talents, how good I was and, if I could get into the right situation, I could produce. I know Cope did what he had to do to get out of there, too.

"Maybe they were just tired of the Cope/Cavil era there."

Adds Copeland: "I'm glad he got in with another quarterback who's great in the CFL in Ricky (Ray) and he's going to be looking for him," Copeland said.

"That's one thing Ricky does well is spread the ball around. That makes me feel a lot better to see Kwame with the Eskimos."

Cavil has 25 catches this season for 246 yards and one touchdown, well behind last year's pace during which he hauled in 78 balls for 1,090 as an Alouette. Cavil and Copeland were part of a group of four Als receivers to eclipse 1,000 yards in 2004, with Cavil averaging 14 yards per catch while recording seven TDs.

"There's a learning curve you have to go through when you go from one offence to another," explained Cavil, who watched Copeland go through a similar adjustment period after signing with Calgary. "You have to get in and learn as much as you can, as fast as you can."

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TODAY, 1 P.M., McMAHON, CBC


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