'Respect my cockiness'

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

At the risk of being unpopular, Nik Lewis started comparing himself to another brash, trash-talking receiver yesterday.

As the Calgary Stampeders take on the Edmonton Eskimos in today's West semifinal (4 p.m., McMahon Stadium), Lewis took control of the locker-room on media day.

"I'm the T.O. of the CFL," the slotback said about the infamous Terrell Owens, whose actions got him suspended by the Philadelphia Eagles. "I've got three words for you: Respect my cockiness."

A week ago, Lewis did the exact same thing, calling out the Eskimos secondary and halfback Shannon Garrett before the season finale. The sophomore Stampeder went out and backed it up, making eight catches for 145 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown against Garrett, who hadn't yielded a major to an opposing receiver this season.

Garrett injured his quad muscle in the third quarter and wasn't at full speed when covering Lewis the rest of the game.

"I had a pretty good game but in the third quarter, I strained my quad," Garrett said yesterday. "I just couldn't go full speed. In the CFL, there isn't many backups, so you have to keep playing."

Lewis responded to the injury information with his usual stubbornness.

"We've seen him on tape raise up off his knee showing good strength in his leg," Lewis said. "Then somehow he went down. I hope he gets better. I want him 100 percent. I don't want any excuses.

"I'm not giving any excuses. I'm not 100 percent right now but I'm not going to use that as an excuse if I can't get the job done."

Because of Garrett's injury, the Eskimos added another defensive back to their roster as an insurance policy. Gerald Dixon could come onto the field to add a double-team to Lewis or Jeremaine Copeland.

"I've got a question," Lewis asks. "Is it going to be their sixth DB or their second double-team, Garrett and that sixth guy, Garrett and the fifth-best guy, who's going to be covering me?

"It doesn't matter. You can double me and Cope but we have great weapons. Look at what MarTay Jenkins and Brett Ralph did last week (both had touchdowns). Ken-Yon (Rambo) can have a great game because look at what he did against them earlier this year. You can talk about double-teams but they have to stop Joffrey (Reynolds), they have to stop MarTay and Ken-Yon. Plus, they have to score on our defence. I'm not worried about it. I don't have to have another catch for the rest of the year as long as we win three games."

Tom Higgins talked with Lewis, along with the rest of the team, about watching their words and not giving the Eskimos bulletin-board fodder. Still, the head coach doesn't expect the excitement to be tempered.

"I don't believe it sheds any greater light on yourself when you take somebody else down," Higgins said. "The old saying is, 'Your house doesn't look any better if you burn your neighbour's down.' It's been addressed and talked about. Whether somebody heeds it or not is another story. We would like to have athletes to show respect and to gain it by going out and playing."

So the burden is on Lewis to perform.

"When you get that cockiness, you go out and play great," Lewis said. "I know we can do the same thing this week."


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