Burris even more buff

Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris and the rest of the team officially kicked off their training...

Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris and the rest of the team officially kicked off their training camp at McMahon Stadium on Sunday. (Sun Media/Darren Makowichuk)

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

Just fresh to the Calgary Stampeders last spring, Dimitri Tsoumpas chuckled a bit when the franshise player walked into the weight room.

The self-described gym rat offensive lineman was doing some dead lifting when Henry Burris stepped up to the bar.

The quarterback didn't take any weight off. Instead, he lifted exactly what Tsoumpas was doing.

"That blew me away," said the left guard, now entering his second season with the Stamps.

"He was rocking it pretty good. Hank's a standup guy and enough can't be said about his leadership and enthusiasm."

Much was made of Burris' off-season a year ago. The veteran pivot put on 15 lb. of muscle to make sure a repeat of 2007 wouldn't happen.

Late in that year, Burris dislocated his shoulder and the Stamps' chances sank like a stone.

Burris' great off-season regime translated into his best season on the field, and it was hardly a coincidence.

After winning the Grey Cup in November and taking a month or so to bask in the title win, Burris got back at it.

He started Stamps training camp yesterday a lean and mean 220 lb.

"I'm just as strong as last year, but I feel fitter," Burris said. "Compared with last year, I trained a lot smarter.

"I'm still doing the same things. Last year, I pushed it to the max, but this year, it wasn't as vigourous. It was a smart off-season in terms of training.

"I still feel great. I'm looking forward to getting after it."

The scary thing for the rest of the CFL is Burris feels better than a year ago, and his work ethic has rubbed off on others.

There are several other players who showed up at this year's camp in better shape than ever before.

"From what I put on (for muscle) last year, guys took notice," Burris said. "They saw the work I put in and how I had a pretty good season.

"The guys know if they do the same thing, they can play injury free, do the same thing and have improved performance.

Having just turned 34 last Thursday, Burris doesn't believe he has reached his peak yet. He hit 5,000 yards for the first time last season and threw a career-high 39 touchdown passes.

"Definitely not," said Burris. "I had a good season last year, but I work hard to continually get better. I really don't know what a peak is, actually.

"I feel like a young quarterback, really. That's what I tell people. In quarterback years, I feel like a 28-year-old guy. I still have more years left in me. I look to play a lot longer."

For just the second time since joining the Stamps, Burris started all 18 regular-season games in 2008, plus the two playoff contests.

He missed three quarters of action on Labour Day due to turf toe. The excellent physical condition heading into camp was a big reason for it.

It's been 12 years since his first CFL training camp, and Burris feels he has perfected the off-season routine, even with two young kids at home.

"The work you put in, you get out of it during the regular season," Burris said.

"Now I know how to work out, and I have a great regimen in the off-season. I felt great going into last year, and this is a feeling I wanted to continue.

"I've always worked hard, but last year, I found the right program. That allowed me to be mentally confident to take a hit."


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