Secondary chance for Stamps vet

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:30 PM ET

Milt Collins came to Calgary Stampeders training camp ready to learn a new defensive position.

But he never saw himself as a linebacker.

Problem solved. He no long is one.

The third-year Stampeder is now working out at halfback after moving from the linebacker spot previously occupied by Shannon James before James was released this off-season.

Collins spent the past two seasons at safety, establishing himself as a punishing hitter.

But the Stamps want to use a non-import at the safety spot and have put Wes Lysack in that position.

Now Collins is going to one of the toughest spots on the football field — one the Stamps have changed up several times the past two years.

“I don’t really mind because I just want to help the defence out,” Collins said. “We want to be better than we were last year. This is a challenge for me, and I just have to get ready.”

With Collins moving over to wide-side halfback, third-year Stampeder Keon Raymond will try to play linebacker and is in a battle with newcomer Ray Cheatam.

There were questions early in training camp about whether Collins was suited for the linebacker spot.

Although the 6-foot-1, 182-pounder doesn’t shy away from contact, run stopping isn’t the 25-year-old’s biggest strength.

“I had never been a linebacker nor had the mindset of what a linebacker does,” Collins said. “You have to watch the big tackles and the guards come at you. It opened my eyes a bit more.”

Collins played receiver at Ole Miss in 2005 before dropping out of football but eventually getting an invite to Stampeders camp in 2008.

In the past two years, Collins split time with Lysack at safety, but he recorded

38 tackles and two interceptions last season in the main role.

The New Orleans native spent the majority of this off-season in Calgary, working out with strength and conditioning co-ordinator Brent Monson in hopes of getting stronger.

But he was back home in February when the Saints won the big game and electrified the Big Easy.

“I really enjoyed our Super Bowl win,” Collins said. “I was so happy for the city because it was quite a few years of hardship. I’m not a big Saints fan, though, but I still enjoyed it.”

Monson uses some different training methods, such as tossing around tractor tires and pulling on thick ropes to build core strength.

Collins gained about 5 lb. of muscle through the pain.

“Brent did stuff I hadn’t even heard about before,” Collins said. “I had muscles hurting that I never knew I had.”

One of the reasons Collins is getting the challenge of moving positions again is because he has grown with this group of defensive backs. He’s a veteran now and should be able to handle the pressure.

“When I first came here, I was the youngest guy on the defence, so I still look at a lot of these guys like my big brothers,” Collins said. “I take heed of whatever they tell me.”


Videos

Photos