Fight for the third fiddle

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

The two men competing for the third pivot position with the Calgary Stampeders are a study in contrasts, but they have one major thing in common.

When the Stamps signed veteran quarterback Dave Dickenson to be Henry Burris' backup, the move relegated sophomore Barrick Nealy and well-travelled veteran Ben Sankey to developmental roles.

But Nealy and Sankey consider themselves sponges, so having Dickenson on board was welcomed by both pivots because of the football knowledge the former B.C. Lion brings.

"To me, Dave is a Hall-of-Fame quarterback," said Sankey, who started two games for the Stamps last year.

"I understand his situation and I'm always pulling for him. Having him around helps me mature and helps me see things a bit slower.

"I've been picking his brain, but as well as Henry. To me, both of those guys have Hall-of-Fame skills. I'm just blessed to be in the same room with them."

Sankey would have the edge on Nealy for that third spot if the third pivot was expected to see the field more. Being that Sankey's first year in the CFL was 2000, his experience is a benefit in an emergency.

But it would take injuries to both Burris and Dickenson before the third man will be called upon this year. So that gives the Stamps the opportunity to use the roster spot to keep developing Nealy, who has shown excellent athletic ability in limited action.

Nealy, who became a father for the first time shortly before camp started, is comfortable just watching and waiting, because that is what both Dickenson and Burris did in their first stints with the Stamps.

The 24-year-old entered this training camp excited because he already knew the offensive system. After a week, he is performing well but it has helped to get some guidance from all three other pivots.

"Those guys are all really poised," Nealy said. "All of us are different. I try to take something from each of those guys.

"Henry is so well rounded, and Dave is so smart that he is like having another coach.

"I try to take bits and pieces from each of those guys and put them into my game. Hopefully I can have the same successes those guys have already had."

When Burris was injured last season, the Stamps couldn't get a victory, but that can't be blamed on Sankey.

For some reason, the rest of the Stamps offence didn't perform well when Burris went down with a dislocated shoulder, first under Akili Smith, then with Nealy and Sankey at the helm.

This year should be different with Dickenson in the fold, mostly because of his calming presence in the locker-room.

But Sankey also feels more comfortable in his first Stamps training camp since 2001. One of the reasons is the 31-year-old has his old number back.

Sankey switched from No. 14 to No. 7, the same digit he wore while helping the Stamps win the 2001 Grey Cup.

Although Sankey has been bouncing around since 2000, he feels he is still developing and doesn't consider himself above the No. 3 role.

"I feel I've developed a little bit but there is room for improvement," Sankey said. "I've been around this league a bit, but I haven't played a lot so I don't have mileage on my body.

"My body and mind feel good, so I'm just competing. I'm not sure about the developmental side. You need to prepare the same whether you are one, two or three and be ready when the time comes."


Videos

Photos