D-backs gear up for action

IAN BUSBY

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

Brandon Stewart and Sadrick Williams couldn't be more different as football players but tonight they have one thing in common.

Both Calgary Stampeders defensive backs get a chance to prove they can be starters in the CFL when the team hosts the Toronto Argonauts (5 p.m., McMahon Stadium).

After the Stamps were torched in Toronto a week ago, they returned home and released defensive backs Jermaine Chatman and Brandon Haw.

Starting halfback Calvin Bannister was injured in the loss as well, so Stewart and Williams spent this week getting ready to start at the halfback spots after beginning the season on the practice roster.

Williams, who is in his second year with Calgary, moves into the spot vacated by Chatman at field halfback.

Stewart, a raw rookie still a year away from being eligible for the NFL draft, will try to replace Bannister at boundary half.

The 21-year-old could barely contain his excitement this week, despite the huge challenge awaiting him in trying to shut down the Argonauts offence.

They do have one positive in that both receivers Tony Miles and Arland Bruce are out with leg injuries.

"I played in the pre-season but this is what counts," Stewart said. "I've been waiting to get out there and show them what I can do. They've seen it in practice."

The Stamps like Stewart's athletic ability and his size (6-ft.-1), but he is raw coming straight out of Eastern Arizona. After training camp, it wasn't hard to convince him to join the practice roster, with no guarantee of ever getting a game cheque.

"I was honoured just to be part of the club," Stewart said.

"Being so young, I have two years of college eligibility left. I was so excited to come out here, have fun and get paid to do it. I'm still a young guy but this is the funnest job I've ever had."

Williams is different in that he played 17 games last season at cornerback, a spot now being occupied by Crance Clemons.

Moving to halfback is completely new to him, but it's a spot he's worked at since training camp broke.

"It actually is totally different, in ways of coverage because the guy is moving and going different directions," said the 27-year-old Kansas State product.

"The mental part is different too, just knowing the plays. The calls are different too. Last year, I got my call from the field half, this year, I'm the one doing the calls.

"I have to know what the corner is supposed to do and relay the call while also watching the guy in motion. There's a lot more thinking and reaction.

Williams also had to swallow his pride a bit and take a practice roster spot after taking a demotion, although he knew he would get another chance to prove himself.

"I had to learn football from a different point of view," Williams said. "I've never been a watcher before. The first day was the hardest but after that, it got easier.


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