Stamp has great expectations

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:24 AM ET

It’s not a Babe Ruth-style called shot or a Mark Messier guarantee, but Arjei Franklin admits it’s true he has 1,000-yard expectations.

But it’s not bravado that has him believing in what can be. More a case of looking at the opportunity staring him in the face.

“I also want to win a Grey Cup. Those are our goals,” the Calgary Stampeders receiver said.

“I think it would be silly of me to have a goal of being a 300-yard receiver. You’ve got to expect the best of yourself.”

The way things have shaped up with their receiving corps, especially among the non-imports, the Stampeders will quite likely need Franklin’s best. Make that best ever.

He and Ryan Thelwell are the club’s lone non-import veteran receivers, and Thelwell is coming off a torn Achilles tendon last season.

The club has a handful of young Canadian pass-catchers in Blaine Kruger, Johnny Forzani, Ron Kelly and Matt Lambros, but they have combined for just a few games.

The retirement of Brett Ralph and Teyo Johnson has increased the need for somebody to step forward.

Right now, Franklin is the best candidate.

“He’s a starting receiver and he needs to replace a guy that was pretty good the last five years,” GM/head coach John Hufnagel said. “I think Arjei is relishing this opportunity to be that guy.”

Right now, the Stampeders have plenty of questions, and Franklin is looking to be a player who answers at least one of them.

“Regardless of who’s in camp or who’s competing within camp,

I go out there and try to make the plays when they come my way. I try not to look at the numbers. At the end of the day, if I catch every ball that comes my way, that’s the best I can do,” said the 28-year-old from Scarborough, Ont.

Through his first four seasons, all with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers until the mid-season, multi-player trade last year which brought him and fellow receiver Romby Bryant to Calgary, Franklin has

108 receptions for 1,242 yards and one touchdown.

His best season was 2008, when he caught 49 passes for 566 yards. He believes the experience gained over that time will help him take his game to the next level.

“Putting your athletic ability along with the mental aspect of your game, that’s the edge veterans have,” he said.

“The game is so much faster than you’re used to, so you have to think. And when you’re thinking, you slow down physically.

“I’m still a little new to this playbook. I was only here two months, but I’m trying to get to the point where I don’t have to think what to do.”

Actually, the club’s entire receiving corps has questions.

The off-season trade of

Jeremaine Copeland leaves the Stampeders with a crew that includes a star coming off a knee injury in Ken-Yon Rambo, a slotback in Nik Lewis who caught one touchdown last year and a few others in the likes of Romby Bryant

and P.K. Sam, who have shown they can be go-to receivers,

but haven’t done it for an extended period.

“There’s been a lot of changes, big names who either retired or were traded, and we’re sad to see them go, but when we look at the guys in our locker-room, we have no

question marks,” Franklin said.

“We have great talent, and because of what we know, we’re not trying to prove anything to anybody.

“We’re just trying to go out there and win a championship.”


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