Young guns fight it out with

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

The Calgary Stampeders are looking for an MLB to step up to the plate.

With the release yesterday of veteran linebacker JoJuan Armour, the Stamps are suddenly without a bona fide starter in the middle of the defence.

There are three players left on the depth chart at the position, but it will likely be a contest between sophomore Lemarcus Rowell and newcomer Tray Blackmon to win the job.

Canadian draft pick Tristan Black is also at the position but is seen as a more of a long-term prospect.

It makes tonight's pre-season meeting in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders that much more important for one of them to step up.

At this point, head coach John Hufnagel isn't sure if Blackmon or Rowell can get the job done, but he made the move to cut Armour for disciplinary reasons.

"We'll find out. I can't say until I see it with my own eyes," Hufnagel said.

"They both did some good things last week and they did things they need to correct and do better."

The absence of Armour does little to change things for Blackmon, a hard-hitter who left Auburn a year early for a chance at making some money in the pros.

The 23-year-old has four kids at home in LaGrange, Ga., and is working tirelessly to make an impression. He delivered the hardest hit in the pre-season win over the B.C. Lions by knocking returner Trestin George into the Stamps' bench.

"The players mobbed me and made me feel part of the team," Blackmon said.

"No guy plans to come in and be a backup. My goal was to start and be the best at whatever position I play, whether it is middle linebacker or special teams.

"It really doesn't matter where they put me, I will try to be the best guy at that position. They could put me at offensive line and I would try to be the best o-lineman out there."

Rowell could seemingly have a leg up on Blackmon being he was here last season. He spent 2008 working as a defensive lineman and felt much more comfortable this spring when he was moved to middle linebacker.

"I've been a linebacker all my life," Rowell said. "Defensive end was a new position for me."

The Stamps also released six more players yesterday, all rookies: RB Reggie Bradshaw, WR Derrick Smith, DL Remond Willis, DB Dee McCann, OL Chad Cossette and DL Ronald Hilaire.


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