Two and a half men

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

CALGARY -- The Calgary Stampeders' Fabulous Four have been whittled down to the Terrific Two (and a half).

And the men left standing are a native Winnipegger and a former Blue Bomber.

Last year's Stampeder linebacking unit, consisting of John Grace, George White, former Bomber Brian Clark and Winnipeg product Scott Coe, was known as the Fabulous Four in Calgary's 3-4 defensive unit.

Grace was CFL's defensive player of the year in 2005. White led the league in tackles. Clark had two interceptions, including one he returned 92 yards for a touchdown. Coe chipped in with 72 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.

They were a beast, and they moved in a pack -- on and off the field.

Then the 2006 season rolled around.

White injured his ankle in an off-season basketball game and was never the same before getting cut late last month. Grace also played below par, according to the coaches. When he had a minor groin injury last month, head coach Tom Higgins made him a late scratch before a game against Montreal.

Grace watched four straight contests from the sidelines before getting back into the lineup for last night's clash with the Bombers.

Making it easier for the Calgary coaching staff to break up the Fab Four was the play of youngsters Cornelius Anthony and Khalid Abdullah. The only reason Grace played last night is because Abdullah is hurt.

TAKING NOTICE

Watching all of this unfold around them were Clark and Coe, who certainly took notice.

"Were we a little upset? Yeah, we were upset at first," said Clark, who played for the Bombers from 2000 to 2003. "But, at the same time, come game time it doesn't matter who's next to you, because we all have faith in each other in that aspect."

Coe is the recreation director when it comes to off-field fun for his teammates, and he made sure Anthony and Abdullah were welcomed with open arms. He said the new foursome has developed a solid link.

"Absolutely," said Coe, who played his early football at Kelvin High School and the University of Manitoba. "We've had it together since the beginning of the year, so that helped. It's not like we're bringing new guys in each week. We've all been here throughout the year, so we've all bonded quite well."

"We always make sure we get out on the golf course and hang out together, grab some food together. (Anthony and Abdullah) gotta take a little bit more ribbing from us, because they're a little bit new, but I give ribbing to everybody, so it doesn't matter."

The Stampeder defence was in the middle of the pack in 2005, but it's near the bottom in many categories this season. That can be chalked up to both the youth movement and getting the payroll in line before the introduction of next year's salary cap.

All of it is a stark reminder to Clark and Coe that their occupations in the Stampeder defence aren't going to last forever.

"It's an eye-opener," Clark said. "It's the time when you think you're untouchable is when they get you, and it brings you back to reality. It's a sport that'll humble you in a second."


Videos

Photos