For veteran signal-caller Ben Sankey, the only drawback to rejoining the Calgary Stampeders was leaving his favourite receiver at home.
He may not possess Nik Lewis' speed or Jeremaine Copeland's soft hands -- at least, not yet -- but Sankey swears his 10-year-old son Jelani is an up-and-coming pass-catcher.
"I make him run them deep comebacks and out routes, and he's getting better -- you know what I mean?" Sankey said yesterday after practice, a wide smile creeping across his face.
"He's a good athlete, and he's going to be the next. I told him just to bypass college -- go right to the pros.
"He kept me motivated and told me if you want to keep doing it, to do it."
Sankey's perseverance paid off last week, when the Stamps called and asked him to return to Calgary after Dave Dickenson was felled by post-concussion syndrome.
With the Montreal Alouettes set to pay a visit to McMahon Stadium Friday, Sankey is working overtime to get reacquainted with the playbook. There's no doubt strong-armed starter Henry Burris is the go-to guy, but the 30-year-old pivot is thrilled to be back in the equation.
"I'm just trying to get in where I fit in -- be a sponge and just learn as much as I can and just try to catch up to these guys," Sankey said. "They're moving at a good rate and a high pace and a very efficient level, so I'm trying to catch up."
Sankey, now in his sixth CFL campaign, started two games for the Red & White last season but was cut loose in mid-May, marking the second time the club has severed ties with the Wake Forest grad.
Nonetheless, Sankey insists there's no hard feelings.
"I understand it's a business, but I'm blessed to be back, and I'm excited to be here," Sankey said. "Playing is always a blessing. We've got a saying around here: 'You're blessed to have cleats on your feet and be off the streets.' "
Sankey was working as a personal trainer in his hometown of Chicago -- he might be the only fitness professional on the planet who claims to "have a body of a bag of doughnuts" -- when the Stamps called.
He is splitting backup duties with sophomore Barrick Nealy and adds veteran stability to the quarterbacking ranks behind Burris.
If Sankey, who won a Grey Cup with the Stamps in 2001 but did not take any snaps in that game, is pressed into action, he's confident the rest of Calgary's offensive arsenal will make him look good.
"I just go out there and try to put the ball in the playmakers' hands," Sankey said. "Jeremaine and (Ken-Yon) Rambo and (Brett) Ralph and Nik, to me, those are the best receivers in the league. They make great plays, so they make it real comfortable for all the quarterbacks here."
Sankey hopes his son can make the trip north prior to the end of the CFL season.
After all, Jelani is not just his favourite backyard target, he's also his biggest fan.
"No doubt about it," Sankey said. "He might be my only one, but that's a start, right?"