What's holding receivers back?

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

There is no question the Montreal Alouettes figured out how to stop the Calgary Stampeders receiving corps Monday.

Just jam the opponent on the line of scrimmage.

"Usually we call that holding," said Stamps slotback Nik Lewis yesterday.

"It does throw off your timing a little bit. But we have to be more physical. That's the bottom line. We have to put our helmets on their helmets."

The Stamps have had their offence dissected by outsiders trying to figure out what has gone wrong in recent weeks.

The receiving corps is taking its share of the blame for a team that has gone nearly 10 quarters without scoring a touchdown.

Against the Als, there was plenty of contact at the line, which seemed to be the gameplan. It worked well, and the East Division leaders only took one illegal contact on a receiver penalty.

"I get the Shaq treatment in this league," said Lewis, referring to the punishment Shaquille O'Neal takes in the paint in the NBA.

"As one of the bigger, more physical receivers, when a guy grabs me and does things like that, I usually don't get too many calls.

"That's the way it's always been for me. I've played through it so far, so there is no reason to (complain) about it now."

In the past few days, the Stamps have turned from a team not worried about their struggles to admitting there are some problems.

A big loss to a division leader can do that.

But there will not be any changes in the receiving corps. The same lineup that played last week has to find a solution.

The entire corps is taking the responsibility to be better.

"Yes. We know it's all about us," Lewis said. "It's not about (Henry Burris) or the defence. It's about us.

"As a receiving corps, we have to do more. We have to make more plays and make sure the ball gets into our hands. It has to translate into bigger plays.

"If we get a three-yard pass and we move the chains, then we're doing our job. That's what we have to do."

For the first time in his career, Lewis is not on pace for a 1,000-yard season. If he continues his current pace, he would finish with 972 yards, and he still hasn't hit the endzone this season.

Another player well off his normal pace is Brett Ralph, who contributed 695 yards in 2007 and 724 last season.

The Canadian is on pace for 478 this season despite being one of two receivers to suit up for every game. The other is leader Jeremaine Copeland.

Ralph knows the group, which now includes Romby Bryant and Arjei Franklin, needs to get better in a hurry.

"You hope there is 40 to 50 guys in the locker-room who all feel they need to do better," he said. "I know, as a receiving corps, we will be the first to admit we need to do better in order to win games.

"You just hope there is more than that who want to do better. There isn't a unit on the team that is pointing fingers at others. As a receiving corps, it's our job to get open and if we can't do that, it's getting somebody else open."

Asked whether the Saskatchewan Roughriders will deploy the same jam-at-the-line strategy the Alouettes used, Lewis wasn't quite so sure.

"Teams are copycats sometimes, but you have to look at what your team is good at," Lewis said.

"They are not a team that is physical up front with their secondary. I would love to see them try to do it."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


Photos