Veteran Rambo gives tips

Receiver Ken-Yon Rambo chats with the media after a Stampeders practice at McMahon Stadium on...

Receiver Ken-Yon Rambo chats with the media after a Stampeders practice at McMahon Stadium on Monday. (Sun Media/Lyle Aspinall)

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

For the first week of training camp, the door was cracked open slightly for the rookie Calgary Stampeders receivers.

With veterans Brett Ralph, Ryan Thelwell and Ken-Yon Rambo all sidelined, suddenly there was a chance for new players to shine.

That door was shut a little yesterday during Day 9 of camp, just two sleeps before the first pre-season game.

All three veterans returned to at least some action, meaning there will be fewer reps to go around.

Rambo, who like Thelwell was nursing a hamstring injury, practised yesterday morning and sat out the afternoon drills.

Although there are half a dozen players trying to take his job, Rambo spent the late session offering youngsters advice -- just as he's been doing all week.

That might not be recommended for some veterans, but Rambo hasn't had to worry about his spot for years. Neither has Jeremaine Copeland, Nik Lewis or Ralph.

So Rambo didn't mind talking with Titus Ryan after he took a spin in Rambo's position.

"When I was a rookie, I would ask questions," Rambo said. "Some veterans would help me, some wouldn't. I don't want to be one of the veterans who won't help a rookie with his future.

"I want to help them progress. If one of us goes down, they need to jump in there. We want to win games. We want to help them know what they need to do."

Not a single starting receiver missed action due to injury last season. The only games Thelwell skipped were due to ratio issues.

Jabari Arthur joined the team late in the season, and veteran utility man Markus Howell can switch back and forth from receiver to defensive back. Those two players add to the Canadian depth.

For the past few years, the starters have been Rambo, Lewis, Copeland and Ralph, with Thelwell as the fifth.

It seems only an injury will change that. It's an advantage the defending champ Stamps have over opponents.

"If you look across the league, every team has different guys from two years ago," said Ralph, who returned to light action after nursing a quad injury.

"We have the same guys. We are all used to each other.

Ryan is one of six newcomers fighting for probably one or two spots. The others are Jermaine Jackson, Jackie Chambers, Derrick Smith, Vince Marshall and draft pick John Kanaroski.

Ryan is getting a lot of reps with Rambo out, while Marshall and Kanaroski were getting a lot of work with Ralph and Thelwell sidelined.

Jackson and Chambers have the unfortunate luck of being behind Copeland, who is having a great camp.

Receivers coach Pete Costanza would like to keep all the newcomers but that isn't realistic. He isn't sure how many receivers he will get to work with after roster cutdown June 25.

Costanza loves having five vets who know the system inside and out. It's like he has extra assistants on the field.

"Their professionalism is something the young guys can learn from," Costanza said. "When they come to meetings, they bring their notebooks, they ask questions and talk things over.

"On the field, if they make a mistake, they know it and they figure out how to correct it."


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