Mr. Versatility starts to shine

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:12 PM ET

Keon Raymond is a victim of his own versatility.

As a defensive player who can successfully play six positions with the Calgary Stampeders, the backup has become too important to be a starter.

That could change after his performance Friday night.

Before halftime, the Stamps replaced short-side halfback Dee Webb with Raymond, and the move paid off.

For three weeks prior to the 27-18 victory over the B.C. Lions, Raymond was playing cornerback in Brandon Browner's spot. He was relegated to backup with Browner returning, but his play may have earned him a starting role.

Finally.

"We're going to have to see if he deserves to be on the field," said Stamps head coach John Hufnagel.

"We thought, because of his versatility, that he could fit anywhere, and he's such an intelligent player to be able to do that.

"He has the ability to play multiple positions so he's an excellent candidate for the DI (designated import).

"Maybe we'll take another look at it and see what our best five are (in the secondary)."

It was a cryptic statement to say the least, but Raymond doesn't care where he plays.

Although he didn't take any practice reps at halfback this week, he still managed to make a key interception in the fourth quarter deep in B.C.'s zone.

That set up a field goal that made it a two-score game and sealed an important West Division win.

"We did a great job disguising the coverage," he said. "I was man-to-man, so I just made a break on it. I was floating a little bit and the momentum took me out of bounds.

"I wish I could have tight-roped it a bit. But at least it gave the offence a chance to put more points on the board."

Raymond started the season at outside linebacker, backing up Shannon James, who rarely misses a snap.

After joining the Stamps midway through last season, he started at safety but was soon the backup as corner and halfback.

When Browner went out for three weeks, Raymond was the obvious replacement.

After all, he's the super sub.

"Having to know all those spots, it's like putting my hand in the jar and pulling out the 50-50 number," Raymond said. "You never know who is going to win."

Defensive backs coach Corey Chamblin likes having Raymond on board because he's able to dress just one backup at several positions.

If Raymond becomes a starter, somebody else must emerge as the utility man.

"Everywhere I've been, one of the things I've done is have a guy who can play all the positions," Chamblin said.

"You might come out of a starting role, but you will get starts here and there. You will get a chance to play. At the end of your career, you will have the option of being a coach.

"He will get a number of starts and when he plays, he should be just as good."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos