Stamps eyeing a Champion

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

In the revolving door of quarterbacks the past two seasons with the B.C. Lions, Zac Champion was spun out of the mix.

But now that he has two years of CFL experience, the Calgary Stampeders hope the Louisiana Tech product can battle for a backup job in 2010.

The Stamps brought the 25-year-old free-agent on board Tuesday for a shot at being Henry Burris' understudy.

Champion will be locked in a battle with Drew Tate and Barrick Nealy for the No.-2 job.

Being that Nealy has been in Calgary for three full seasons and Tate spent last year as the backup, Champion will need to pick things up quickly.

But Champion said he's prepared for this shot after playing behind the likes of Buck Pierce, Jarious Jackson, Travis Lulay and Casey Printers in B.C.

"It was a tough situation as a young guy," said Champion, who went 12-of-34 passing for 92 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.

"I never really got the opportunity. We had five guys there. They were all good players. It was hard to get my foot in the door. I just had to roll with it and work with the team.

"I didn't want to cause anything with the team. It's like anything else. You just have to roll with it and let it go."

To start this season, Stamps head coach John Hufnagel declared an open competition for the backup spot Tate occupied late last season.

After the first few days of camp, Hufnagel wasn't impressed with his quarterback play, especially in terms of accuracy throwing the ball.

Fourth-stringer Dennis Brown was cut Monday, and the move to bring in an experienced CFL pivot shows the team isn't happy with who they have right now.

Quarterbacks coach Dave Dickenson, who was coincidentally replaced on the roster in B.C. by Champion, likes what he sees so far in the newcomer.

"The one thing I can tell already is he's going to be a good leader, and he's a quick learner," Dickenson said.

"He has a lot to do on our team to get comfortable and to push our guys.

"We have a healthy mix, and we wanted to add somebody who we felt could play and wouldn't be a project. We want all our quarterbacks to be able to step on the field once the season starts."

Dickenson will try to get Champion ready enough to play Sunday in the pre-season meeting at Edmonton, and the quarterback said he's comfortable getting throws in immediately.

After one day of work, Champion is excited to be a sponge around Dickenson.

"He's done a lot, so it's great to work with him and learn from him," Champion said.

"I've been here a day, and he's a great teacher. He really knows how to explain things. It's awesome with him."


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