Stamps backup QB retires

Stamps GM/coach John Hufnagel says QB Barrick Nealy

Stamps GM/coach John Hufnagel says QB Barrick Nealy "is dealing with some personal, severe, personal problems." (QMI Agency/Jim Wells)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:04 PM ET

It looks like Drew Tate is the uncontested No. 2 quarterback in Calgary Stampeders camp.

Tate likely had that tag already -- he did at the end of the 2009 campaign -- but the competition became thinner Friday with the abrupt retirement of fourth-year quarterback Barrick Nealy.

Tate will likely see more playing time in the pre-season games, especially Sunday's contest in Edmonton against the Eskimos.

"I have to take advantage of that," he said. "Barrick might come back. I don't know anything about it, and right now I'm focused on what I've got to do Sunday. All the other stuff will take care of itself."

Nealy, who joined the Stampeders for a spell in the 2006 season and made the club out of camp in 2007, had his retirement announced after the morning practice by GM/head coach John Hufnagel.

"He is dealing with some personal, severe, personal problems. I'm optimistic that he can get it all sorted out and get back on the field," Hufnagel said.

"We have plenty of players that are eager to play football. Football's a tough game and you're dealing with a lot of men and issues come up. At this time, an issue has come up."

Henry Burris is the starting quarterback, so the importance of the back-up pivot role with the Stampeders can be debated.

Calgary brought former B.C. Lion Zac Champion into the fold earlier this week, and he appears to now be No.3 on the depth chart.

Whether Nealy is actually done with football, though, remains to be seen.

Because he's been placed on the retired list, the Stampeders retain his rights, and Hufnagel said Nealy, 26, very well may return.

"He has to resolve things. We'd have to meet again, have another chat and make sure everyone's on the same page, that he's got things settled," Hufnagel said.

"I'm gonna give this 48 hours to play out and make a decision at the appropriate time. I do have someone I will be calling, we have ear-marked, and we'll see what happens."

Nealy lost the No.-2 job late last season to Tate, and was in tough to keep a spot with the club, so the natural question was whether his retirement had to do with seeing his job in jeopardy.

"I don't believe that's the case," Hufnagel replied.

Through three seasons, Nealy completed 16 of 39 passes for 195 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He's also ran 22 times for 195 yards and three touchdowns.

Originally from Dallas, he played at Texas State and was conference player of the year in his senior season.

A terrific athlete, Nealy has been more successful at the CFL by using his running abilities than throwing the ball, which has led to questions whether he can run effectively the club's offence.

Hufnagel wouldn't divulge what the issue was, and Nealy's teammates said they weren't sure what was going on.

"Any time you have a teammate, you want to see him be successful. He's a blessed and talented player and a very good friend," Burris said. "You want to see him successful and happy in life in every way. Whatever situation he has to deal with, we'll be here for him 100%.

"That's what true teammates do."


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