Who's gonna walk the line?

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:24 AM ET

Of the five starting offensive linemen for the Calgary Stampeders' playoff game last year, only two remain with the club.

Of the seven who suited up for that 26-24 loss to Saskatchewan in the west semifinal, there are only three still here.

The CFL is known for its high turnover rate, but that's going to an extreme. And it could have a huge impact on the coming season.

After all, if there's not enough protection, the quarterbacks can't make the passes to that crew of talented receivers. And if there are no holes to escape through, the running backs have no chance to race down the field. At this point, whether the revamped unit can do the job is probably the biggest question mark at McMahon Stadium.

"I'm not worried at all," said quarterback Henry Burris, whose fate rests much on the shoulders of the big men lining up in front of him.

"I expect nothing but the best from those guys, so it's not affecting me at all."

Among those gone from the Stamps are long-time leader Jay McNeil along with Bobby Singh and Dave Costa to retirement, while John Comiskey was traded to Edmonton and joined Garrick Jones, who went to the Eskimos via free agency. The only mainstays back from last year's squad are centre Rob Lazeo and right tackle Jeff Pilon. Godfrey Ellis, a back-up last season, appears pencilled in to start at left guard.

Dimitri Tsoumpas, the first-round choice from this year's draft, quite possibly will be at right guard, while Derek Armstrong remains on the shelf with a triceps injury, and the left tackle spot appears to belong to the currently injured Jermese Jones -- although Antonio Hall is receiving a long look.

Piecing them together is only one step. Having them work in sync, not only with each other but also the rest of the offence, is another.

Reynolds said it's not going to be that big of an adjustment from his point of view.

"It's more the new plays we're doing," he said. "Granted, we haven't played a game or actually had people trying to bring you down. I think (tomorrow) will be a measuring stick on how well our offensive line plays.

"These guys are playing for a job, trying to make the team. I'm assuming they'll be the best they can be. I have a lot confidence in the guys who'll be put in there and I'm sure the coaches do, too."

Unfortunately, conditions haven't been ideal for rebuilding the Stampeders o-line through training camp as they prepare for tomorrow's pre-season clash with the Eskmos.

Not only has the weather played havoc on the players, but injuries have reared their heads. Highly touted tackle Jesse Newman needed knee surgery that will sideline him through training camp, while Armstrong is out indefinitely. The Stamps also lost import tackle Nello Faulk to a season-ending knee injury.

There were only eight players practising Tuesday, one of whom was the newly added import guard Brady Ramseier.

"Yeah, just kinda got thrown into the fire. I'm trying to learn on the fly," said the 6-ft.-6, 310-lb. newcomer. "I came in looking for that opportunity to prove myself. Coming in and getting that many reps is good for me to get it down right away and show them what I can do."

It has meant a heavier workload for those in good health.

The positive is finding out what each player is capable of in a short span.

"That's the beauty of it. The younger guys, and that's including myself, get to do more reps," Ellis said.

POINTS AFTER

A handful of players who missed Tuesday's practice returned yesterday, but that may be tempered by the fact star defensive back Brandon Browner suffered an injury and left practice early, as did receiver Nate Curry ... Receiver Eddie Montgomery, released Monday, was added back to the roster.


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