Stamps spell relief: N-E-A-L-Y

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

Henry Burris left the season-finale healthy and ready for the playoffs, which should be a relief.

But after the way Barrick Nealy and Will Proctor played in a 41-30 win over the B.C. Lions Saturday, maybe the Calgary Stampeders aren't as worried about their starting pivot anymore.

When the defence and special teams are dominant and creating turnovers, it almost doesn't matter who is behind centre.

With the depth offensive players shining, Burris can play free and easy as the Stamps get set to host the West final Nov. 15 at McMahon Stadium.

"It's great to see because people would say if I go out, the backups can't pick up the slack," Burris said yesterday. "Barrick is capable, and you saw that as he goes out there and picks up three touchdowns."

Burris left at half-time with only a three-point lead after hitting the 5,000-yard mark for the season, but then he watched in amazement with everyone else at how Nealy scrambled for 72 yards along the ground.

Nealy only threw two passes, but he was able to move the ball anyway.

"He's so blessed with talent," Burris said about Nealy.

"His physical attributes are out of this world.

"The fact he will continue to get better is amazing. It's been an honour to work with him and help him with the maturation process."

A year ago, the Stamps' season derailed when Burris was hurt in Hamilton.

The team went 0-5 when Burris was hurt or didn't start, and the team wasn't sharp for the playoffs.

So, by winning Saturday night to send the Lions on the road for the first round, the Stamps have cleared another hurdle. Either the Lions or the host Saskatchewan Roughriders will be the opponent in the West final, where Burris will, of course, be the starter.

But Nealy proved it wouldn't be a disaster if he has to enter the game.

"That's the way it should be," said Nealy. "When Henry is not in there, I should be going in and keeping things going. I should also use some of my own personal capabilities.

"I should be able to run this offence the way Henry runs it. Maybe I can bring some other things in terms of my running."

Stamps head coach John Hufnagel is giving the team time off until Thursday.

The coach doesn't want his players to start worrying about the opponent until one is decided.

"We will enjoy the time off this week," Hufnagel said.

"We understand what we accomplished, but we will then work at improving ourselves."


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