Playoffs in June

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

The weather may be pleasant and the calendar may read June but Tom Higgins would prefer his players instead believe this is November.

When training camp opens Sunday, the Calgary Stampeders head coach will tell the group of hopefuls the mistakes they make now will be revealed come the CFL playoffs.

All he has to do is remind the veterans how it felt when they lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders last year -- the second straight playoff disappointment -- and tell them about putting in the work and building a foundation for success.

"It's part of talking to the team now," Higgins said. "If I can show them what we do now affects what happens in November, would they take heed?

"We have enough guys who've been with us for two Novembers. We actually played well in those games but we lost in some of the finer points that came back to kick us. We can see those things now, so let's take care of them now."

There are plenty of jobs up for grabs, which is a lot different than last year when a veteran lineup was basically set and there were no real camp surprises.

The starting defensive line will be new this season and up to three linebacking spots will have new occupants. There may also be too many veteran receivers for what the team can carry.

But every position -- aside from the placekicker, Sandro DeAngelis -- will be competitive because quality talent was brought in and some capable pro players will be released.

"This the best year we've had in terms of bringing players in," said Stamps general manager Jim Barker.

"It was tough to pare down to this number. We had a mini-camp with 75 prospects. There was only 28 of those who were invited to main camp.

"You may not believe it but every guy we bring in here had a chance at making this football team.

"Our goal as a personnel department was to challenge every guy on our roster."

If they could, the Stamps would fast forward to the playoffs and redeem themselves for past failures immediately.

Everything between now and then is preparation and there can't be enough done in Higgins' mind.

"Only time will tell if it works," Higgins said. "You can tell them this has to happen, this has to happen and this has to happen. We can tell them but they have to show us they understand.

"We have to be tougher and faster. You have to do that playing but they also practice that way.

"If we do that in the first week of the season through the final week of the season, we'll be exactly where we want to be."

WILSON SENT TO REGINA

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers sent import OL Eric Wilson to the Saskatchewan Roughriders yesterday for import running back-kick returner Dominique Dorsey and import defensive end Dwan Epps.

Wilson started six games for Winnipeg last year, while Dorsey was used mostly as a returner and led the Roughriders in all-purpose yards.


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