Hammerin' Hank

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris can always rush the ball effectively, but the club has...

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris can always rush the ball effectively, but the club has started using backup Drew Tate on short-yardage plays to decrease the chance for injury.

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:41 AM ET

Officially, the Calgary Stampeders are doing everything they can to limit hits on their starting quarterback.

They can’t do anything about the ones Henry Burris delivers himself.

On the same night the Stamps inserted backup QB Drew Tate to run short-yardage plays for the first time, Burris had a regular play where he decided to drop the shoulder and drill Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Chris McKenzie.

If head coach John Hufnagel was cringing seeing Burris do quarterback sneaks at midfield before, he must have been hiding his head seeing his franchise QB put himself in a high-speed collision.

“I told Huf it was a one-time thing,” Burris said with a laugh. “At least defensive backs are aware I can do that at any time.

“Hopefully that’s one time I did that, and now they will be on alert.

“It’s one of those chances to give your team a burst of energy. Doing those things sometimes gets your team to react in certain ways. Hopefully, they think, ‘Hank’s putting it on the line, so let’s get going.’

“I want to lead by example. The energy and excitement I bring hopefully rubs off on others.”

Earlier in the 40-20 victory over the Riders, Tate took over on a third-and-one and got two yards for a first down.

It was the backup pivot’s first chance to run the ball this season, and it will continue unless the Stamps get to the goal-line.

Several CFL teams use a short-yardage QB to limit the pounding on their starter, but the Stamps didn’t until now.

“We need to take the hits off our quarterback,” said Hufnagel, who doesn’t want to see the lowered shoulder from Burris again.

“He was fired up because of his play in the first half. He was in an aggressive mode, and when he plays that way, he’s a pretty dangerous quarterback. There are things that are out of my control.

“Everybody plays better when they play with an edge.”

Getting a taste of some action seemed to serve Tate well.

The fourth-year CFLer took over again late in the fourth quarter on a second-and-two and broke free for a 40-yard gain.

“There was a look for that play and we had practised against it all week,” Tate said. “It worked out well. Everyone knew what they doing.

“I was waiting to get caught. I was surprised to get that far.”

Tate doesn’t mind taking some shots for Burris, either.

“That’s cool,” Tate said. “At least I wake up the next morning and felt like I did something. The body is hurting now. It’s an opportunity to get on the field and do something, and that’s really fun. It started last week, and I’m not sure if it’s going to continue.

“They saw something in the defence, they wanted me to run some things. If the opportunity presents itself again, I will take advantage of it.”

The time on the field for Tate should serve him well if Burris does get injured.

The Stamps just hope it doesn’t happen on a play that could be avoided.

Calgary’s offensive line, the subject of so many question marks prior to the season, is tied for the CFL with only seven sacks allowed, so the team has done a good job of keeping Burris out of traffic.

If he would only stop throwing himself into danger.

“It was the decision I made on the spur of the moment,” Burris said. “I knew I had a guy behind me. I knew I couldn’t make a move on him. I just had to make a decision about running out of bounds or ducking the shoulder. Let me give it a shot. I knew he was a strong guy. I thought I would try something different instead of jumping over or running out of bounds.

“As a 35-year-old, hopefully I represented the old school.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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