Southern-raised Stamps trying not to chill

WES GILBERTSON

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

Brandon Smith had been warned.

That's not making his first taste of wintery weather any easier to swallow.

"Everybody always told me to watch out towards the end of the season, because you're gonna freeze your butt off," said Smith, a Calgary Stampeders defensive back who hails from Oakland, Calif., and played his college ball at Sacramento State.

"They told me about it, but I didn't think I'd actually see it, until now."

Stampeders linebacker Mike Labinjo has bad news for his rookie teammate: It's only going to get worse.

"This is nothing, man," Labinjo said.

"I kind of laugh at some of the guys. (Thursday), I warmed up in sweat pants, but I was in shorts most of practice, so I'm just telling guys, wait until it really gets cold out here and then we'll see how much you'll be bundled up."

Old Man Winter made his first appearance of the season during the club's three-day break earlier this week, although the McMahon Stadium grounds crew had the snow cleared off the turf before the Stamps returned to the field Thursday.

They've been practising in frigid conditions -- at least by Smith's standards -- but the fluffy white stuff hasn't fallen since.

"We knew it was coming. It was just a matter of time," shrugged running back Joffrey Reynolds, a Houston product who'd rather be rushing under sunny skies. "At least it held out this long. But yeah, Canada and snow kind of go hand in hand."

Next Saturday's West Division final, when the Stampeders will host the B.C. Lions, will be the CFL's final outdoor game of the 2008 season.

The Grey Cup is slated for Nov. 23 at Montreal's domed Olympic Stadium.

The forecast for next weekend calls for clear skies and temperatures hovering around the freezing point.

Because the Leos play their homes dates indoors at B.C. Place, a bit of a chill might actually give the host Stamps an advantage.

If Mother Nature does decide to show her ugly side, that'd be just fine by middle linebacker Saleem Rasheed.

"It's fun," he said. "As a defence, you love sloppy games where you can get out there and play some old-school football, that handing the ball off. Good ol' peewee football -- hand the ball off and tackle."


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