Hungry to get cookin'

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:47 PM ET

The rallying cry for some hot home cookin' has come a bit earlier this season.

When the 2008 Calgary Stampeders lost on Labour Day to the Edmonton Eskimos, every home date from then on out was treated as a must-win to reward their loyal supporters.

A month into the 2009 season, the Stamps feel they owe the faithful at McMahon Stadium after losing two of the first three outings.

"We've got to start winning at home for our fans and for the health of our football team," a terse head coach John Hufnagel said yesterday.

In their march to the Grey Cup, the Stamps (2-3) had a 7-2 record at home.

They will need to run the table starting tonight against the 2-3 Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7:30 p.m., TSN) in order to replicate that record. The good news is the Bombers haven't won in Calgary since 2002.

"It's a culture of losing that was formulated in our trips to McMahon," said Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown.

"We don't have a readily available scapegoat like we do in Montreal. There is no Crescent Street stuff.

"There is no explanation other than the culture developing. I'm the only guy who remembers how much we lost here. It's good we got rid of everybody else."

When the Stamps lost to the Bombers in Week 2, they were still trying to find continuity on offence. They turned the ball over five times, including a Siddeeq Shabazz interception return for a touchdown.

Shabazz isn't going to play due to an ankle injury, but the Stamps are without leading receiver Ryan Thelwell due to a tender hamstring.

Despite the injuries the Stamps have suffered, including losing Ken-Yon Rambo, running back Joffrey Reynolds is surprised it's taken the team this long to figure things out.

"As a veteran, you think it should be clockwork coming in every year," said Reynolds, who has two straight 100-yard games.

"You should pick up where you left off. For whatever reason, some guys aren't on the same page. Give credit to other teams because they change as well.

"We need to get into our comfort zone and when that happens, we should be able to dictate things."

The Stamps are still trying to find a comfort zone with the defensive line, despite the emergence of Odell Wills as a sackmaster.

Mike Labinjo, who started at end but moved inside, gets put at the quick end spot this week with Justin Brown and Tom Johnson teaming up inside for the first time.

It looks like a formidable combination, but that may not be the end of the shuffling.

"Who knows? I feel like I get moved every week," Labinjo said. "Now I'm back to quick. I'm not sure if we're trying to find a combination of guys or we're just trying to match up with Winnipeg's power running game.

"We need consistent play from everybody across the board. Hopefully, this group on Saturday is a good one and we stick with it."

Last week's loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on a last-second touchdown by Chris Getzlaf still bothers the Stamps veterans.

But they know they have to be better in every facet.

"Even if we would have won the game, we would still have been disappointed in how we played," said slotback Nik Lewis. "We are putting more pressure on ourselves. We've been 3-3 every year since 2005, so if we do it again at least we're consistent."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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