Stamps' Johnnie's on the spot for picks

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:31 PM ET

Johnnie Dixon has a football tucked away in his locker, a souvenir of his final interception during his first CFL training camp.

Its out of the cornerbacks hands whether he gets another memento from his time with the Stampeders.

Dixon knew it would be tough to crack Calgarys roster, being that veteran cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Dwight Anderson were both divisional all-stars last year.

But the Pearl River Community College product (Hattiesburg, Miss.) opened some eyes with picks in both pre-season games.

After scoring on an 80-yard return against the Edmonton Eskimos, Dixon picked off Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cole Bergquist in the final minute.

The 21-year-old never let go of the football, and now hes holding onto hope it wont be his last chance.

I pretty much had a great camp because I did what I did in practice during the games, said Dixon, who is the second-youngest player in training camp.

I made big plays and helped the team out in any way I could. Everything paid off. Two interceptions and two wins.

Dixon showed great instincts in both outings, reading the play and making a move on the ball. He came out of nowhere to snag the Bergquist attempt.

I was being patient, Dixon said.

I was watching the receiver and watching the quarterback. His hand came off the ball so I just made a move on it.

I knew I had to stand out. I knew I had to make big plays to be noticed. The vets that have been here have much more experience.

Its all about learning fast and getting the hang of the game when you get the opportunity to play.

Theoretically, every job is up for grabs in training camp, but there were only a handful of true battles in the Stampeders defence.

Keon Raymond and Ray Cheatam both did well battling for the strongside linebacker spot, while Juwan Simpson and Greg Trent both made cases for the middle linebacker position.

In both instances, the veterans would likely have the upperhand.

The Stamps didnt get a chance to look at middle linebacker Robert McCune, who missed the game with a back injury.

Stamps head coach John Hufnagel hopes to see McCune get onto the field the next two practice days before final roster cutdown.

I hope he stays on the field, Hufnagel said. A lot of things can happen between now and Thursday.

Overall, the first-team defence did well against the Riders, holding the starting offence to 10 points and only one long drive that resulted in a touchdown.

We wanted to win that game, said Raymond, who had an interception.

Even in the pre-season. We didnt beat those guys once last year.

Going into the off-season with that feeling, it just hurt. To have an opportunity to punch them in the mouth, it felt good.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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