CFL rules strange to some

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

The first post-cut practice for the Calgary Stampeders featured groups of players bumping into each other and some confusion amongst rookies.

The real fun of the CFL starts with the unofficial Craig Dickenson Day.

With the 46-man active roster finally set, the special teams co-orinator put the group through the paces of uniquely CFL plays.

They started out with the fake-punt formations, moved into onside kicks and finished with always entertaining missed field goal kick out.

"It's funny to watch the dynamics of new guys when they see the rouge," said veteran Canadian linebacker Scott Coe with a hearty laugh. "You should see their puzzled looks when we talk about kicking it out. It's priceless."

For those more familiar with the U.S. version of football, which includes all new import players, being able to punt the ball on any possession can be a bit confusing.

The Stamps put Jeremaine Copeland and Markus Howell in the endzone yesterday to play missed field goals, then the receivers would lateral the ball to punter Burke Dales to boot it out.

Just imagine how confusing it was when Coe fielded the punt and booted it back through, creating a seesaw battle of hot potato.

"I had to learn this stuff when I came up," said veteran import linebacker Brian Clark.

"It seems like nothing to me now but I remember the first time I saw it and shaking my head about them. It takes time to learn."

Because of Dickenson's creativity, the Stamps special teams units made for must-watch moments last season.

In a game at Montreal, Clark faked a punt and ran for more than 30 yards after the team had a fake field-goal touchdown brought back because of a penalty.

Later in the season in Edmonton, Clark took a direct snap on a punt, rolled out and hit Dales with a perfect rainbow pass.

"I had a really good QB rating, probably higher than Henry Burris last year," said Clark. "We have to throw some new stuff in because we emptied the playbook last year. Teams will know what to expect from us now.

"But there's so many more things we can do. Now it comes down to what teams do on the defensive side of punts and field goals.

"If they are completely safe, we'll just kick it away. That's what we want, make sure nothing happens where we give up something. Making the other team play safe is the major point of fakes."

Dickenson has three veterans on his special teams unit in Coe, Clark and Wes Lysack so he feels comfortable letting them decide when to pull some razzle-dazzle.

"We may lean on them a bit more this year to see what the defence is doing and make the proper call," Dickenson said.

Dales, who is always pushing to get more chances receiving or throwing, took the fake punt serious yesterday in practice. When the ball gets snapped straight to Clark, Dales pretends the ball sailed over his head.

Although the team was running fakes from last year, Dales can't wait to see what Dickenson does in the coming weeks.

"The thing with him is he spends hours on end thinking about ways to outsmart his opponents," Dales said.

"That's what makes him so good at what he does."


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