QB takes shine to game

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

While several teammates are worried about making a final impression tonight, Henry Burris is just hoping to put a spit and polish on his starting offence.

There are several positional battles still in play as the Calgary Stampeders kickoff against the Saskatchewan Roughriders tonight in Regina (7 p.m., QR77) but this is also the last chance for Burris to prepare for the regular season.

"I'm ready to go right now but there are some small kinks to work out," Burris said yesterday after the final training-camp practice.

"There are new things we're working on, so this is a chance to make sure those things are working in a game the way they do in practice.

"For me, it's good to see a more conventional look because our defence does some wacky things."

That defence is where most of the tough decisions are going to be made but some nagging injuries may cause some problems in that area.

It's either going to be Matt Groodegoed or Tony Bua for a starting linebacking spot, while Brandon Haw and Trey Young are vying for the safety job.

Both Groodegoed (foot) and Haw (leg) are iffy to make the trip, leaving the door open for teammates to step in.

Two defensive line spots are seemingly up for grabs with a handful of players still on the bubble. Terrence Patrick is pencilled in for one starting role, while the frontrunners for the others are Keron Williams and Anthony Gargiulo.

On offence, both Wes Cates and Ken Simonton are looking to make an impression but will see few reps behind starting running back Joffrey Reynolds. So even though Burris wants to open things up and test his starters, head coach Tom Higgins will make standard play calls to see some players in action.

"You want to make sure you can evaluate the athletes by what they can do execution-wise, not what our coaches can do to outmanoeuvre the other coaching staff," Higgins said. "But there might be more from the playbook than the last outing."

Higgins said the Stamps will take about 53 players on the trip, probably leaving behind about 10, including injured veterans Ryan Thelwell (hamstring), J.R. Ruffin (knee) and John Comiskey (ankle).

Punter Duncan O'Mahony hasn't practised all week and is questionable for the game but is still locked in a battle with incumbent Burke Dales.

Higgins said the team wants to see more game action from both, although the decision appears clearer because one is ailing.

"You don't want to eliminate any position because the only one sewn up is kicker," Higgins said. "We're pretty set at quarterback and our offensive line is pretty stable but we like that we brought in competition and the competition is still going on."

Burris isn't being affected by the uncertainty. He has a pretty good idea of who will surround him, so the biggest thing he's looking for is if receivers can find holes in zone defence or fight off man-to-man coverage.

"There's decisions that have to be made and that's the sucky part of this business," Burris said. "We just want to make sure we're sharper and more consistent.

"A lot of the guys aren't worried about what decisions are being made. They know what they have to get done so we're just looking to be more consistent.

"We played good last week but we can be better at things."


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