Changing of the guard for Stamps

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:07 PM ET

Henry Burris expected to see Dimitri Tsoumpas again after the offensive lineman headed to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

Maybe see more of him than you’d think.

“I was looking forward to skinny-dipping with him off the coast of Miami a couple of times here or there,” Burris said with a laugh.

The Calgary Stampeders quarterback quickly added: “I’m very happy to have him back. It gives us some added depth, added skill. He’s a true professional player and he’s going to make our offence better.”

The first opportunity will come Sunday when the Stampeders play host to the Edmonton Eskimos. The 6-foot-4, 315-lb. offensive guard was taking first-team reps during Wednesday’s practice, their first session after last weekend’s 27-22 victory over the B.C. Lions.

Tsoumpas, who the Stamps drafted second overall in 2008, started every game in his first two seasons out of college, and earned a shot with the Dolphins in the off-season.

However, he was surprisingly released before Miami opened training camp, returned to Calgary early last week and immediately signing a three-year contract with an option for a fourth season, which would take him through 2013.

He’ll have had nearly two weeks to prepare for his season debut.

“That’s why we didn’t do it right away. We needed to give him a week — this will be a second week — and he’ll be fine,” said Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel.

“He’s doing a good job. It’s still a work in progress getting him to full speed, but he’s a bright kid.”

Tsoumpas, who’ll turn 25 next month, wasn’t out of the CFL long, but will need to be deprogrammed from the NFL game.

Plus, he has to re-adjust to the one-yard between the lines of scrimmage in the Canadian game.

“When everything happens in a split-second, with that yard difference, your timing is off just a bit. It takes a bit to get used to,” Tsoumpas said. “It was different, for me at least. Now that I’m back here, I have to un-learn the stuff I was trying to learn and get back to the CFL mode.”

The Stampeders offensive line was filled with question marks before the season, but after the first six games, the unit deserves its share of accolades.

Not only are the Stamps atop the CFL’s West Division with a 5-1 record, but they’re tied with Saskatchewan atop the league for fewest sacks allowed with 12.

Steve Myddelton did an excellent job filling in for Tsoumpas, but the return of a 2009 division all-star can only help a team.

“I hope so. I haven’t done anything yet, so you guys are pumping me up,” Tsoumpas said.

The way things went in Miami, Tsoumpas deserves some positive words.

He left the Stampeders with hopes a pair of excellent seasons in Calgary groomed him for the NFL.

“It’s disappointing by more the way the system works down there,” Burris said. “We all know Dimitri’s a great player, and when the team goes out and signs a couple of veterans without giving you a true opportunity, there’s really nothing you can do.

“One thing we all talked about when Dimitri made the decision he was going to head south, one thing we all kept saying was he’s going to be a great player down there, if he’s given his opportunity. To me, that was the No.-1 thing. If the team would allow him, he would make the team. He’d do a lot of great things.

“But the fact you get to play professional football and come back to a place you know you’re wanted, and you can enjoy a long, fruitful career in a great city like Calgary, that’s why he came back ready to go.”

Tsoumpas professed to be ready.

And, apparently, ready to have fun.

“I don’t have my dad here, Jeff Pilon,” he said with a grin. “Nobody’s keeping me in line here. I’m just running wild.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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