All-star snubs not 'D'flating

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

Something doesn't add up here.

No three-down defence allowed fewer points, touchdowns or rushing yards in the regular season than the Calgary Stampeders. The Horsemen also boasted the CFL's second-lowest mark in total yardage surrendered and first downs against.

The one defensive category where the Stamps pulled up the rear? All-star selections.

Surprised?

You're not the only one.

"We have the No. 1 defence, so I thought our defence would at least have two or three guys on there," said rookie halfback Brandon Smith. "I understand we play as a team and it's a team sport here, but some of the guys accomplished great goals this year ...

"I just thought we would have got a little more respect and have some of our players on the list."

The Stampeders returned to the practice field yesterday -- three days after the league announced its divisional all-star squads -- and several key contributors admitted they were a bit rankled cornerback Brandon Browner was the only Red & White defender on the list.

On the other side of the ball, quarterback Henry Burris, running back Joffrey Reynolds, receiver Ken-Yon Rambo and centre Rob Lazeo all made the grade, while kicker Sandro DeAngelis was named an all-star for the fourth straight season.

"The all-star thing, that's big for our defence," said Stamps linebacker JoJuan Armour. "It shows we haven't got the respect that we deserve, and having that chip on our shoulder is what we've had all year.

"It helps to know that we still have a job to do, we still have things to prove and we still have minds to change. And that's our goal. That was our goal from the beginning of the year, and our goal until we're done playing is to prove that we're the best defence playing ball and we have the best players.

"Regardless of voting, regardless of all-stars, when it's all said and done at the end of the season, it's our performance and our defence -- where we stand in team defence -- that speaks for itself."

The B.C. Lions dominated the defensive all-stars in the West Division with seven starters, including sackmaster Cam Wake. The Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders had two all-star defenders apiece.

Browner, who registered 61 defensive tackles, two fumble recoveries, one sack and three interceptions in his second CFL campaign, was the only Stampeders defender to receive enough ballots, which are cast by media members, coaches and fans. Even linebacker Shannon James, the team's nominee for the defensive player-of-the-year award, came up short.

While few would argue the Red & White defence was a forceful presence on the field, some players were probably overlooked in all-star voting because of a shortage of highlight-reel plays.

No Stamps defender finished atop the stats sheet in an individual category. As a unit, they finished fourth on the eight-team loop with 19 picks -- the Lions led with 27 -- and fifth with 33 sacks -- less than half of the total racked up by Wake and the Lions, who had 68.

Those stats mean nothing to Stamps defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones.

"To be honest with you, this group, from the very first time we got together, I don't think anybody cares who sticks out," he said. "They just care about one thing, and that's winning ball games."

After all, what better way for Stamps defenders to hush their critics than to hoist the championship trophy?

"The (all-star) votes are in now, so there's nothing we can do about that," Smith said. "We just have to go and win the Grey Cup.

"That'd satisfy us."


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