Punishing Stamps pair shows promise

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:08 AM ET

Milt Collins couldn’t clearly see the hit, but he did hear it.

At least the Calgary Stampeders defensive back heard a good description of how much it must have hurt.

After Collins wrapped up Andy Fantuz by the waist last Saturday at McMahon Stadium, cornerback Brandon Browner levelled the Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver in the chest.

The force of the blow knocked the ball loose, and the Stamps recovered during a 40-20 victory.

“When BB hit him, I heard Fantuz say some profanity,” said Collins, who was originally given the forced fumble in the official stats before it was changed to Browner.

“So when Browner hit him, I knew that ball was out.”

Browner and Collins have become a deadly duo since getting joined up side-by-side in the Stamps’ secondary.

For the past few years, Browner has caught many an opponent with a crushing hit from his cornerback spot.

Since 2008, Collins was the safety, and he would often sacrifice a possible interception to punish a receiver.

But this training camp, Collins was moved from safety, first to linebacker and then to short-side halfback — which is what Stamps defensive backs coach Cory Chamblin calls the toughest position on the field.

It’s no accident the Stamps paired up their two biggest, most physical defensive backs on that side.

“The money receivers are over there,” Chamblin said. “If people want to make a living on short side, you need height, quickness and speed.

“When we looked over what we had, it was Browner and Collins. Milt has the size and ability. He can be one of the best halfbacks in this league if he locks in and take it like he should.”

In the win over the Riders, Collins twice had his hands on the football before finally getting an interception late in the fourth quarter.

The first time, he knocked the ball out of Fantuz’s reach in what probably would have resulted in a long touchdown.

The second time, he made a diving stab on an errant pass but lost the ball as he hit the ground.

With the good numbers Collins put up, Browner was worried he wouldn’t get credit with the forced fumble.

Chamblin keeps his own stats, and he gave Browner the stat, which helped move him up the list they keep on the meeting room wall.

“This year, we have an emphasis with coming up with big plays,” Browner said, who asked reporters about the official stats post-game. “That’s why I was concerned with the forced fumble.

“I’m trying to be up there with the big-play guys. It’s making us emphasize having those big plays.

“Ultimately, it’s a competition, but it’s all for the common goal and that’s winning.”

Collins wasn’t concerned about who got the credit.

“It’s no competition,” Collins said. “I was moved to his side of the ball and I’m just trying to get on his level. I just want to be as good as he is over on that side.”

Browner is just as happy to have Collins over standing next to him.

“He’s an athlete even more than just a hitter,” Browner said.

“He’s a raw athlete. He’s still green with the knowledge, but if he keeps things open and keeps learning, he’s going to be an all-star here.

“Quarterbacks will try him, but I expect Milt to have a lot of interceptions this year. He’s never too far out of a play because he’s too fast. I expect big things from him.”

So can we call this a Devastating Duo?

The Fearsome Twosome?

“It’s not a nickname, but that’s our mentality,” Collins said. “He has a big ego and

I have a big ego. Whatever happens on that side, it’s just me and him.

“If it comes to a big hit, or getting our hands on the ball, that’s what we will do.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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