Takeaways D plan of attack

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

To the casual viewer, the attack was akin to watching piranhas swarm fresh meat.

Calgary Stampeders receiver Eddie Montgomery caught a pass in yesterday morning's training camp session. Immediately, a slew of defenders converged.

Instead of just tackling Montgomery, they all began to swat and rip at the ball in his hands until it came loose.

The fumble was forced.

The job done well.

The lesson learned.

"That's how you win games," said Stamps defensive back Crance Clemons. "We've got a high-powered offence, and the more chances they have to score, the better chance we have to win. If we get the ball more, we've got a better likelihood of winning the game."

Montgomery wasn't the only offensive player who faced such an attack.

Every receiver or running back who's come across the line of scrimmage since camp began has been given the same treatment.

In yesterday's morning session, a few fumbles were forced, not to mention a handful of interceptions were created. Even when a pass is dropped, defenders are implored to recover the loose ball.

"It's interesting to us, too. I've never seen it like this before," said defensive halfback Julian Battle. "I think it's for conditioning, too. But it's to instill in our brains to get the ball any way necessary."

That marching order applies to the entire defence.

"It's all 12," said Battle, laughing at the scene it causes. "Coaches are emphasizing making plays, getting turnovers and giving the offence chances to score. A lot of guys have the old habits of seeing the ball carrier and going to tackle him. We're trying to take it to another level and get the ball back."

Last season, the Stampeders were the worst team in the CFL in the giveaway-takeaway ratio at minus-20.

The Stamps recovered 18 fumbles -- which tied them with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for top spot in the league -- but had only 13 interceptions.

The coaching staff wants the team's calling card to be playmakers -- and not just on offence but on the defensive side of the ball, too.

"We've always run to the ball -- every team I've been with -- run to the ball and take angles to the ball, and now we're taking it a step further," said defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones. "Even on incomplete passes, we want guys going to get the ball, to scoop the ball. It's about the importance of staying after the football and not quitting on a play.

"We want the mentality that that ball is the most important thing. It's our goal. We've got a good offence, and it's our job to get the ball back and get off the field. You take the other team's mistakes and make them have a mistake a time or two, and all of a sudden you've got a positive defensive day."

Another benefit for the Stampeders was the lesson for the offence.

After all, last year they were horrible in the giveaway department, coughing up the pigskin 45 times between fumbles and interceptions -- by far the worst in the league.

That's not the major concern for Clemons and the rest of the defenders. They're busy doing what they can to create the habit of forcing turnovers.

"No matter who you are, you get the ball back," Clemons said. "You're not just covering. You're not just trying to intercept the ball. You're trying to get it out by any means necessary. That's what we're trying to do. It'll pay off. Next year, we'll be talking about taking it to another level."


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