A 'Casey' of being comfy in B.C.

IAN BUSBY

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The visitors are looking for lucky No. 7, while the home team is peeking over at No. 1.

Maybe Casey Printers can be the one who breaks the Calgary Stampeders' hold over the B.C. Lions since John Hufnagel took over as head coach of the Horsemen.

The Stamps' streak is now at six games, including the 2008 West final, but none of those wins were against the improvisational Printers at quarterback.

Printers is making his second start in his second stint with the Lions (8-8), as they host the Stamps (9-6-1) tonight in a game that could decide second place in the CFL's West Division.

After a horrible year and a half with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Printers has come back to the home of his most impressive career achievements.

The 2004 CFL most outstanding player seems to have a comfort zone in Vancouver, or at least it's a group he meshes with better.

"Casey had a lot of success here at the beginning of his career," said veteran receiver Geroy Simon. "He comes back, and it's not exactly the same, but we do have some of the same concepts as before.

"He's picking up the new stuff pretty quick. He's getting more confident in learning things. Usually when you leave a team, you hardly ever get back with them. To have the opportunity to come back to the Lions, where he's had a lot of success, that's a blessing. He's thankful for the opportunity, and he's going to take full advantage of it."

There is no question Printers is a more mature player than his time with the Ticats and even his first years with the Lions (2003-05).

He returned from an NFL stint to much fanfare in Hamilton, where the Ticats signed him to a huge free-agent deal.

The Florida A&M product tried taking over the leadership reigns in Steeltown, but that failed, and he alienated teammates in the process.

When Printers returned to the Lions, he rejoined former Ticats teammate JoJuan Armour, who put all differences in the past.

"It's being professional," Armour said. "We were on different teams, and things happened, and feelings are presented. Here, he's not asked to have the role he had in Hamilton. Here, he's asked to play his part, and we're all in this together. It's more of a group effort.

"In Hamilton, the management was putting all the weight on his shoulders. He can be more comfortable and play more relaxed football here. So it's a good opportunity for everybody."

Stampeders defensive back Dwight Anderson was in Hamilton when Printers arrived there in early September 2007, and the easy-going cornerback could see the issues.

"I had no problem with Casey," Anderson said. "It kind of rubbed guys the wrong way the way he came in, saying to get your popcorn ready.

"I never took it personally. As long as you come to play, I'm cool with that."

Printers played a good first game last week in an overtime loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Although he threw an interception to lose the tilt, Printers used his elusiveness to extend plays and improvise. He threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns.

A sign Printers has changed is in the way he has reacted to the loss. The 28-year-old apologized for his mistake on Twitter and deflected any praise for his performance yesterday.

"Everybody else was good around me," Printers said. "In turn, the quarterback can play well. That's the bottom line, so kudos to our guys. We didn't win the game, and that's the most important thing."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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