McNeil shares wisdom

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

Calgary Stampeders greybeard Jay McNeil has some sage advice for the kids in camp looking for steady work in the CFL.

The 13-year veteran guard says if they fail to shine under the bright lights during tonight's pre-season game in Vancouver, they might have to find a new line of work.

"Camp is just practice and, in the end, it means nothing," said McNeil, 35.

"When you get into a game, it's a whole new speed. That's what shocked me the most when I finally got into my first game -- just how fast it really was.

"You can be the best practice player in the world but if you can't perform in a game, it just doesn't matter."

McNeil and the Stampeders have spent the last 12 days in training camp, including nine two-a-days during which they sweated through drills and scrimmages for up to four hours per day.

Although tons of film has been compiled on each player, it all can be wiped away with one lousy performance. The reverse is also true for hopefuls who struggled in practice but still hold out hope to make the club.

"You tell guys that," McNeil said.

"A guy will have a bad practice and get down on himself and I just say, 'Listen, practices are important and you want to have as good a practice as you can but what you do when you get into games is what really matters.' "

SHOWN THE DOOR: Non-import receivers Ricardo Hudson and Toby Atawo were released yesterday, reducing to 64 the total number of players in camp.

Eight players still with the team will not make the trip tonight: LB George White (Achilles), DB Jermaine Chatman (knee), OL Jeff Pilon (groin), DL Terrence Patrick (ankle, hip), R Markus Howell (ham), RB David Allen (hamstring), R Nik Lewis and R Jeremaine Copeland (healthy).

Import LB Hakim Akbar (ham) won't play tonight but the University of Washington product will attend the game to "experience the chaos," in the words of head coach Tom Higgins.

"The pace and tempo and how fast this game is going to be played is shocking," Higgins said.

"Guys can hear 'third down' and it doesn't always kick in that we're punting.

"He needs to experience the chaos. It's controlled chaos."


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