McMahon Stadium was a clean slate when Henry Burris arrived Thursday morning for rookie camp, and it had nothing to do with the spring rain.
Burris got ready for practice in the new Calgary Stampeders locker-room, and then went out and threw passes to No. 80 Johnny Forzani.
The quarterback then got acquainted with new right-tackle candidates Edwin Harrison and Sam Allen.
Things have changed since Burris and Stamps were knocked off by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West final last November.
The old No. 80, Jeremaine Copeland, is gone. Receiver Brett Ralph, right tackle Jeff Pilon and right guard Dimitri Tsoumpas aren’t walking through the doors, either.
So Burris took the time Thursday to get used to their replacements.
“This is a fresh new start for us,” Burris said. “It’s a brand-new attitude. We have something we’re fighting for, just as the rest of the teams. We’re focused on us, and hopefully, we can get the job done.”
Since Burris signed up as the starting QB with the Stamps in 2005, he had Copeland on the field every time he played. Ralph also never missed a game in that span, and Burris benefited from their consistency.
Now, new relationships have to be built, mainly with P.K. Sam, who was brought over from Toronto in the trade for Copeland, but also with every player on offence.
Although Sam had yet to arrive Thursday, Burris got a headstart on building chemistry with prospective newcomers such as Forzani.
“When you lose a couple of guys you have been with forever, you will lose something,” Burris said. “I’ve been working out with a lot of the receivers we have coming back.
“Now, it’s time to plug those guys in those spots and see who can make up our starting four or five. The good thing is I have experience with those guys.
“We’re losing special players, but we have to work our hardest and make it the best situation possible.
“There are some great battles going on. If somebody steps away, somebody has to step in and replace him.”
The best news for Stamps supporters is Burris will be physically ready for main training camp.
Burris, who will turn 35 Friday, hit the gym hard this off-season to make sure he would be at his ideal playing weight of 220 lb., the same as 2008 when the Stamps won the Grey Cup.
“Last year, I came in smaller (210-215) than I did the year before,” Burris said. “We won the Cup, and then we had our second child, and that really put me behind schedule.
“Going from one thing to the next, I didn’t have time to get to the desired weight and strength I wanted to.
“This year, I’ve been able to concentrate on spending time with the family and dedicating myself to getting ready for a big year.
“Once you get a taste of success, it’s a failure unless you have that same feeling again.
“Hopefully, we can achieve that.”
Stamps head coach John Hufnagel said the first main camp practice will feature fitness testing, something that isn’t usually done in the CFL.
As the undisputed leader of the Stamps, Burris plans on giving a full effort.
“I’m not good against the clock,” Burris said. “I was never taught how to run the 40. I will give a good 4.6 or 4.7.
“I would run faster if a 300-lb. guy is chasing me. I will probably (bench press) 225 about 10 to 12 times and then rack it.
“I want to go out there and show, as a quarterback, that I’ve been training hard.”