Manpower united

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

A year ago, 'getting on the same page' was the common catch-phrase around McMahon Stadium.

With a rebuilt coaching staff and a revamped roster, everyone in Calgary Stampeders colours was struggling to speak the same football language.

The process, while sounding simple enough, took weeks to execute while the problems were reflected in the CFL standings as the team failed to win consecutive games until after Labour Day.

Clearly, some of the finer details of offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto's system were getting lost in translation.

Fast forward to 2006 with training camp just three days away and the entire coaching staff is returning after a second-place finish.

The core players from the '06 roster are expected to return with just a few newcomers likely to contest for starting jobs.

The quarterbacks and receivers, largely intact from last season, are already working out and attending meetings.

One would think the team not only has found the same page but is light years ahead of a year ago.

"I don't know how you define light years but we're so much farther ahead," said quarterbacks/ receivers coach Bill Diedrick after yesterday's sessions.

"Last year, guys were breaking the huddle and they're like, 'Where do I line up? What route do I run?'

"They were more concerned about just trying to get their assignments. Now everybody's been through it and now everybody could just about run every position across the front.

"They're understanding the concept and that allows us to take a whole different approach. You're still installing and still teaching the plays but now you're teaching the real small adjustments off what the coverage does and you're able to take that next step.

"I think that's an area we progressed to near the end of last season once they got familiar with each other. This year, from the start of camp, we're much farther ahead than they were a year ago."

Back for his second year is starter Henry Burris, atop a list of five quarterbacks wearing Red and White. Burris is the undisputed starter ahead of veteran backup Danny McManus, acquired in an off-season trade with Edmonton, and second-year Danny Wimprine. Also in camp are free-agent David Corley and Jason Thomas, picked up in the Ottawa dispersal draft.

Burris agrees that although camp doesn't officially kickoff until Sunday, the QBs and receivers have already advanced beyond where they were a year ago.

"I can tell you one thing, we're 10 miles ahead of where we were at this time last year," Burris said. "Everybody's having a good time out there. We're going through the mental reps and getting in some good physical throws and routes and things. The timing is definitely there and getting better every day."

Receiver Jeremaine Copeland agrees. After signing as a free agent he struggled to find a rhythm with the QBs. This spring the aerial game is already ahead of last season's camp.

"Everybody's pumped about this year," Copeland said. "We think we've probably got the best team coming in, it's just a matter of going out and making plays."


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