Win could go a long way

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

We know the Calgary Stampeders have characters in every corner of the locker-room.

As for character, that has yet to be verified.

Now that the hubbub surrounding the antics of Nik Lewis and Jeremaine Copeland has died down -- getting rag-dolled by the B.C. Lions can do that -- the consensus within Stampsville is the team must deliver on early-season indicators it was among the CFL's elite.

Sunday's rematch with the Lions affords them that opportunity, while a Stampeders win would also clinch second place and a home playoff date.

While the game is worth two points in the standings, just as important is the chance to prove to the Lions -- the team that will host the West final -- the Stamps (9-7) are worthy adversaries.

"It's a character game in that we need to let them know we're not going to lay down and get our butts kicked like that again," said 13-year-veteran Jay McNeil, whose Stamps have lost five consecutive regular-season games to the first-place Lions.

"In the playoffs, anything can happen but we've got to let them know they'll be in a fight if they play us, not what they saw last week."

The Stampeders held a players-only meeting after yesterday's practice in which some apparently aired their views on the team's pitiful 39-13 loss in Vancouver. While opinions vary as to why the team was so flat in a game that would have kept them in a fight for a bye to the West final, McNeil said the lacklustre showing won't happen again.

"We just went out and played uninspired football and we talked about not letting that ever happen again," said McNeil, the longest-serving Stamp and emotional team leader.

"You say things here and there but now guys are buying into what we're trying to get done. It's been talked about since the last game."

Standing up to the Lions Sunday is about a show of character, according to quarterback Henry Burris, who had one of his worst nights as a Stampeder.

"There's a much bigger picture than just trying to sew up home-field advantage for the first playoff game," Burris said.

"If we want to go to the Grey Cup, it's got to go through Vancouver. Friday was the most embarrassing game I've ever been a part of and I played college ball at Temple where we only won five games in four years.

"Against the Lions, we didn't come and play with the effort we're known to play with and we need to in order for us to gain some confidence against those guys."

Lewis, the Stampeders leading receiver with 68 catches for 1,003 yards, scoffs at the notion of 'character games.'

While several other Stamps insist it is a time to stand up to a team that has had its number for two seasons, Lewis will have none of that.

"We call it Game 17," he said. "If we go out and get blown out 100-0 this week, then B.C. gets overconfident. If we win the first round and go to B.C. and then they think they can win and then we can go and beat them in B.C. because they're overconfident."

We'll find out Sunday when it's time to either put up or shut up.

INJURY REPORT:

The MRI on DT Sheldon Napastuk's knee was negative, he is walking with a brace and should return for playoffs. S Trey Young (ankle), LB Cornelius Anthony (ankle), DB Sadrick Williams (knee) and R Beau Gibbs (knee) are all day-to-day ... Import LB Shannon James took reps with the starting defence and could be activated for the Lions game ... Canadian OL Chris Cowan is in camp for a look.


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