Big changes on Stamps O-line

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:49 PM ET

There’s 899 lb. of fresh meat on the Stampeders’ starting offensive line.

That’s a big change, but two-time all-star Dan Comiskey insists it’s not necessarily a big problem.

“Obviously, you need to have time to gel and have time to come together,” said Comiskey, a 13-year CFL veteran and one of three new starters on the Stampeders’ offensive front five.

“But sometimes, you just have a great group of guys that really want to work hard every day and want to get just a little bit better every day. When you’re on one of those units, it doesn’t ever feel like it takes that long. It feels like you’re going to make mistakes, but what you’re going to do is come together and you’re going to grow with those mistakes and make changes to make things work.

“That’s what we’ve been doing so far.”

It was a steady stream of bad news for the Stamps’ offensive line in the off-season, with Dimitri Tsoumpas earning an NFL audition with the Miami Dolphins and fellow starters Jeff Pilon and Jesse Newman hanging up their cleats.

In their place, Comiskey, import tackle Edwin Harrison and practice roster survivor Steve Myddelton will make their first meaningful appearances for the Stamps during Thursday’s showdown with the Toronto Argonauts (8 p.m., TSN, QR77).

After filling in at the position for six games last season, Tim O’Neill has supplanted Rob Lazeo as the starting centre. That leaves Ben Archibald, the runner-up for the CFL’s top lineman award in 2009, as the only remaining starter from last year’s season-opener.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?

Not so fast.

It’s worth noting the last time the Stamps inserted three new starters on the offensive line, the unheralded group paved the road to a Grey Cup title.

Archibald, Tsoumpas and Newman weren’t exactly big names when they arrived at McMahon Stadium for training camp in 2008, but all blossomed into key contributors, creating optimism the newest newbies can do the same.

“These guys are here for a reason,” said Stamps quarterback Henry Burris. “They’re here because of their potential and their athleticism and their ability and because they’re great players. Now, it’s time for us to allow those guys to grow into that mold that we’ve definitely seen them in, and you can definitely see flashes of it each and every day.

“You see them, as they get more comfortable with what we’re doing, getting better every day.”

From behind centre, Burris will have a front-row seat for their first showing. So, too, will star running back Joffrey Reynolds, who is coming off back-to-back CFL rushing crowns and has always heaped praise on the Hoggies that clear his path.

Reynolds, like everybody else at McMahon Stadium, is anxious to find out what the new guys are made of.

“I think Thursday will be a real good test for us,” Reynolds said. “Toronto has a real good run defence — I don’t if anybody knows that, but last year they were tops defensively in a lot of categories — so they’ll present a lot of challenges. I know we’ve got some guys in new spots and new positions, and you just never know until you get there, but those guys have been working hard.

“I’m confident we’ll be up for the challenge.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca


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