Vets eager to get feet wet

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

As veteran stars, Henry Burris and Jeremaine Copeland don't have much at stake in the pre-season.

They want to get some rhythm, make a nice play or two, then sit back and watch the young guys step up.

It's much different for those new to the team.

But Copeland is quick to point out although tonight's outing against the Edmonton Eskimos (7 p.m., QR77 Radio) is important to making a strong impression, it's not the be-all, end-all.

"In training camp, you need to be a gamer throughout the whole camp," the veteran receiver said.

"You can't be terrible in practice and play well in the game hoping the coaches accidentally change their minds.

"You need to show you are a playmaker from the get-go. We have our eyes on certain youngsters -- I'm sure the coaches do -- and we're anxious to see them get out there and play.

"But to classify yourself as a gamer, you do need to show up for this one."

Burris will start tonight's game and probably play about a quarter. Fellow pivots Dave Dickenson, Ben Sankey and Barrick Nealy will all get some action, while offensive weapons such as Copeland, Nik Lewis, Ken-Yon Rambo and Joffrey Reynolds will see limited reps.

The Stamps' exhibition games seem to be more important for the rebuilt defence, which will be working in new starters along the line and at linebacker.

Burris, the undisputed No. 1 pivot, just wants to get into a comfort zone with his reworked line and receivers, then get out healthy.

Although Burris has been through the wars of the CFL for more than a decade, he finds this a necessary exercise.

"I actually enjoy pre-season. You get out there and get a taste of action, get a rhythm going," Burris said. "You can't truly get a rhythm going in camp. You are trying to share the reps with everybody.

"You start getting something going, but then you are taken out. In the pre-season, you get in and play a couple of series. After that, you are ready to call it a day."

There are a few positional battles to watch, but nothing too major on offence outside of the line.

There is likely room on the roster for one new receiver aside from last year's returnees, and another spot for an import running back.

The likes of Nate Curry, Reggie Williams and Chris Jackson will need to make catches when they get opportunities.

It also means running backs Ken Simonton and Demetris Summers will need to make something happen when they get the ball.

On defence, not many spots are set in stone, but head coach John Hufnagel doesn't believe anything will be completely decided by this one outing.

Still, this is an important part of the evaluation.

"The guys realize there's only two pre-season games," Hufnagel said. "They realize the hard work they put in during practice will relay to the playing field.

"If you have an opportunity and make a mistake, that's not a good thing. They understand that and hopefully they will be prepared for their opportunities."

Hufnagel likely won't make cuts after this outing.


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