Handled with Grace

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

MONTREAL -- For the second straight game, the Calgary Stampeders are sitting a veteran player, sending a clear message through the locker-room.

Linebacker George White is the latest player on the outs, joining John Grace on the bench, who was put there two weeks ago.

First-year Stampeder Khalid Abdullah will take over for White tonight while Cornelius Anthony will once again play for Grace when Calgary invades Molson Stadium tonight to take on the Montreal Alouettes (5:30 p.m., TSN) in the second game of a home-and-home series.

Although the Stamps are coming off a last-second victory over the Als two weeks ago at McMahon, the coaches decided to sit White because the linebacking corps hasn't lived up to its billing this season.

It's not that Grace and White have played poorly, they just haven't lived up to their past standards.

Although most Stampeders won't admit it, sitting healthy veterans is a statement that performance is paramount, even when the team squeaks out a win.

"You have to ask the coaches but, for us, we just have to go about our business and worry about what we have to do on the field," said linebacker Scott Coe, who will line up alongside the two replacements.

"It comes down to making sure we communicate. As long as those guys understand what they have to do, they will make some plays."

The issue of complacency due to long-term contracts was brought up a few weeks ago after the Stamps lost their third game in a row but was quickly dismissed by management.

Since then, the Stamps have rattled off two straight victories at home by challenging the players to get better, which included activating a couple players off the reserve list to shake things up.

White opened the door for Anthony and Abdullah after getting injured in the off-season and missing the first two games.

Both new players showed flashes of brilliance during those games, which gave the coaches a hint they had suitable replacements if they were needed long-term.

Head coach Tom Higgins said the changes aren't set in stone.

"Benched is a hard word," Higgins said. "George is not playing so it is difficult on a young man. He took it like a professional.

"We're in a position at the end of this football season, we won't ask whether Khalid and Cornelius are legitimate or not.

"We'll have the answer to that question. Then we'll decide the direction we'll end up going."

Grace is coming off a season where he was named the CFL's defensive player of the year, while White led the league in defensive tackles last season.

Denny Creehan's defensive system is designed for the linebackers to stand out, which White and Grace haven't done as much this season.

"There's a level of productivity we've always expected from our linebackers," Higgins said.


Videos

Photos