It's no secret coach keeping starters under wraps

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

John Hufnagel can't understand what all the fuss is about.

The Calgary Stampeders GM/head coach closed practice to the public this week in preparation for Thursday's season opener against the B.C. Lions, which has created a bit of a backlash from media.

The new coach will debut many new faces on defence against the Lions, so he is keeping his starting lineup secret in hopes of gaining a competitive advantage.

Hufnagel said allowing media or fans to see only the first 25 minutes of warmups and stretching, then the final 10 minutes when players are cooling off, is just a Week 1 routine and won't be the norm.

"If it happens again, there would be a right reason to do it," Hufnagel said. "I thought I explained my reason yesterday. After this game, everyone is going to know what our team looks like."

The players certainly don't have a problem having no one in the stands watching.

Although Hufnagel said the main reason for closing practice was to hide the starting lineups, there is the opportunity to run new plays in secret.

So tuning in Thursday for the opener should be interesting, according to receiver Jeremaine Copeland.

"It really contains everything," said Copeland. "If it's closed, there's no leakage. From a player's point of view, anything is possible for us.

"We can run all our stuff and not worry about it getting out."


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