Promise unfulfilled

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

The Calgary Stampeders offence, advertised in training camp as a high-powered unit that would dazzle opposing CFL defences, never found high gear in 2005.

While the Stampeders had two 1,000-yard receivers in Nik Lewis (1,379) and Jeremaine Copeland (1,211) and running back Joffrey Reynolds was sensational most of the season in rushing for 1,437 yards, the offence needs more depth and consistency.

"That's one thing we know," said Copeland, who won a Grey Cup with Montreal in 2002. "Nobody's seen what this Stampeders team is made of yet. That's the key and I think if we start off in camp where we left off this season, we're really going to reach that potential next season."

Despite multiple weapons, including QB Henry Burris, it took most of the season for the offence to find its stride. But Burris argues there will be more to offer next season. After missing three games with torn ligaments in his non-throwing hand, he finished the year with a 60.9% completion rate and 23 TDs, although he also tossed a dozen interceptions.

"We had so many guys in different positions and we were trying to grow into something special," said Burris, whose numbers improved as the season progressed.

"When you look at the final four teams in the playoffs, all four have been together for years.

"The bottom line is it will be very beneficial to all be back together next season."

Burris, 30, is also confident he will be a more polished pivot next season, especially if offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto and QB coach Bill Diedrick return.

"I have a better understanding of what's going on around me. As much as things were out of control (against Edmonton) we still moved the ball, it was just those subtle things," Burris said.

"We have to hold onto the ball, whether it's me not trying to force the ball into coverage or other guys putting the ball on the ground."

The eternally confident Copeland expects the Stampeders to make the next step in 2006 to host the West final.

"I'm happy with the performance we put up this year, although we didn't reach our goal," he said.

"I know that the potential is there to be two-time Grey Cup winners if we want it bad enough."


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