Romby one good Rambo

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

Ken-Yon Rambo still makes frequent trips to McMahon Stadium, serving up encouragement for his Calgary Stampeders teammates as he rehabs a surgically-repaired right knee.

Sometimes, though, star slotback Jeremaine Copeland feels like Rambo is still streaking down the sideline during games.

That's the ultimate testament to how effective Romby Bryant has been as Rambo's replacement.

"With the speed and route-running and execution right now, it definitely feels like Rambo being in there," Copeland said.

"(Bryant) will take the attention that Rambo takes, and that's a plus for me, man, and I eat it up. I love when a guy comes in and makes plays.

"No disrespect to my favourite homey, but (Bryant) is definitely holding it down for him while he's out."

Bryant and slotback Arjei Franklin joined the Stampeders six weeks ago after a blockbuster trade with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

After the deal was announced, Stamps gunslinger Henry Burris was sporting a smile as wide as the uprights. Over the past two weeks, fans have seen first-hand what he was so excited about.

Bryant was the team's leading receiver last weekend in B.C., racking up 129 yards on four catches. He was even more dangerous two weeks ago in his first Battle of Alberta, gashing the Edmonton Eskimos secondary for 211 yards on nine catches.

"Romby's getting real comfortable," said Stamps slotback Nik Lewis.

"He's catching the ball downfield. He's breaking tackles. He's making plays. He's showing the 1,200-yard Romby that he was last year.

"Now, he's comfortable with us -- we know how he does things, and he knows how we do things -- and we're becoming a team on offence again."

For the Stampeders, who can clinch a first-round bye and homefield advantage for the CFL's West Division Final with a victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders Saturday in Regina (5 p.m., TSN), Bryant's emergence as a deep threat couldn't come at a better time.

It's no coincidence Copeland is getting some breathing room after being double-teamed for several weeks, nor is it that Lewis is back on track for his sixth-straight 1,000-yard campaign and finally celebrated his first touchdown of the season last week.

Franklin, Brett Ralph and fullback Rob Cote are also getting in on the action.

"I knew once we started to gel, it was going to be something special, and you're starting to see that come about," Burris said.

"When you have that many weapons open outside at the receiver position, somebody is going to get open and somebody is going to find ways to make that play. (Opposing defences) are trying to figure out, 'Should we roll coverage this way? Should we play man-to-man and risk giving up a big play to Romby or to Nik or to Cope or to whomever it might be?'

"To have those problems that run through a defensive co-ordinator's mind, that's good for us."

EXTRA POINTS

Injured FB Teyo Johnson (ankle) returned to practice yesterday at McMahon Stadium, while LB Mark Calixte (knee) was missing in action ... The Stamps have added non-import LB Mike Botterill to the practice squad and released FB Gerald Commissiong.

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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