Cue Nik's catch phase

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

Don't kid yourself, Nik Lewis knew his numbers.

The Calgary Stampeders receiver was well aware through the first three games of the season he had only 11 receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown.

So there was satisfaction with a big outing in Calgary's 43-16 thumping of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last night at McMahon Stadium.

"Every time I get 100-yard game, it's big," Lewis said.

"Getting 11 catches, you start to think, 'Can I still do what I did?' When you come out of the gate like that, you question yourself. Tonight, I proved I can still do it."

Even with the Stampeders pretty much putting it in cruise control for the final quarter, Lewis racked up 125 receiving yards on nine catches and two touchdowns.

Even head coach John Hufnagel had no problem singling him out for that performance.

"Nik has played extremely great football for us over the first four games, in all areas, just not in catching the ball," Hufnagel said. "He's done a great job blocking for the run, pass protection-wise, blocking downfield when a receiver catches the ball or Joffrey breaks free.

"So I was very pleased to see him have a great game."

According to the stats man, though, Lewis was essentially a footnote through the first three games of the season.

He made the highlight reel with a couple of fantastic blocks -- he set the tone in the season opener with a hellacious block of B.C. Lions star defensive lineman Cameron Wake -- but a season that projected to just over 700 receiving yards isn't quite what you'd expect.

"I don't think it was wearing on him at all," said fellow receiver Jeremaine Copeland. "The thing with this offence is we've got playmakers all across the board. We're not like other teams where we've got to throw to one person every game, so when the balls come your way, you've got to make the opportunities stick to you, make the plays.

"Tonight, he just got his opportunities to make some catches. Next week, it could be somebody else. It could be Ralphie (Brett Ralph) or (Ryan) Thelwell or anybody else. It's just a matter of going game to game."

Playmakers who make catches like Lewis' first touchdown reception last night. He caught the ball in full sprint at the back of the end zone and just managed to keep a foot in bounds.

"I feel like I'm a pretty good receiver in this league and I feel like I should be able to make that play," Lewis said. "I look up to a lot of receivers like Cope and (Ken-Yon) Rambo and Geroy (Simon) and Milt (Stegall), and I want to step and be a big-time guy like that.

"What I have to do is make plays like that to be in that category."

Rambo hauled in 127 receiving yards, which gives him 386 on the season and temporarily puts him atop all CFL pass catchers.

But the fact is, with the collection of receivers Calgary boasts, it's not likely any will have a monster season.

The ball will be spread around -- it has to -- and receivers have to accept it.

Lewis, whose streak of 74 consecutive games with a catch (every one he's played) is third longest in Stamps history, insists that's fine with him.

"I've broken records in college. I'm climbing up the record chart here, but I've never won a championship," said Lewis, who would become the first Stampeders receiver in history to boast five straight 1,000-yard seasons if he reaches that mark this year.

"If I want to go some where and get 2,000 yards, that's fine and dandy, but that's not what I want. I want to win Grey Cups. We've got a great team here, and I'm going to do whatever I can to help. I feel I can help win Grey Cups."


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