New man to offensive line picks up the slack

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Jesse Newman is taking the pressure off Dimitri Tsoumpas' back, both figuratively and literally.

Because Newman is the greenest of the new offensive lineman with the Calgary Stampeders, he had to carry the bocce ball set yesterday around Montreal.

In every pre-game, the O-line plays bocce, and yesterday was no different as the Stamps prepared to take on the Montreal Alouettes at Molson Stadium (5 p.m., TSN).

The linemen even played during the walk-through at Olympic Stadium where there was nothing but a concrete floor on which the balls would roll endlessly. That's dedication.

Tsoumpas and Newman are both rookie first-round draft picks, but Tsoumpas played the first two games while Newman nursed a knee injury. So Tsoumpas must be pleased he's no longer the picked-on rookie.

"I bet he is," said Newman, who had to check the bocce case on the airplane. "They have me hauling the heavy things around. I thought it was the youngest guy, but they said it's because of being my first game I have to bring them. I'm just going to roll with them.

"I can't wait to get onto the field."

Although this is his first outing, Newman expected to sleep well last night. He may get playing time at left guard with Godrey Ellis out with injury but isn't worried.

"The hotel has really comfy beds, so that will help," said the 25-year-old. "Hopefully, Tim (O'Neill) doesn't snore too much. We had a couple of fans in there last night to drown out the snoring. He only woke me up once."

Karikari returns to Montreal

Although S Richard Karikari spent four seasons with the Alouettes, he hardly believes this game is a special homecoming. Last year, Karikari returned to Montreal with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after leaving as a free agent, and that had more emotion.

"When you don't know anybody but the GM there, it isn't the same thing," Karikari said.

Masson starts for Alouettes

The Als' new starting safety is familiar with the Stamps. Pascal Masson played three seasons in Calgary before signing with the Als as a free agent before last season.

It was his final game with Calgary that was key in him becoming a starter this year under new defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke, who was also with the Stamps at the time.

Masson was an emergency fill-in at halfback during the 2006 West semifinal loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"Pascal always had the ability," Burke said. "He just didn't believe in himself enough. He feels much better about himself now and it's translating to the field."


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