Burris sharing spotlight

IAN BUSBY; QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:55 PM ET

There was a time — win or lose — when Henry Burris was the story of the Calgary Stampeders’ fortunes, or lack thereof.

If the Stamps won, it was Burris who played heroically, made few mistakes and did something amazing and worthy of the highlight reel.

If the Stamps lost, usually it was Burris who tossed the ball to the opposition too often, or simply fumbled it away.

Now that the 2010 Stampeders are winning at a rate not seen here since the 2000 season, the quarterback has taken a back seat to his teammates when it comes to the spotlight.

It seems to be working well.

Although the Stamps have the best record in the CFL at 6-1, Burris hasn’t been recognized with a player of the week honour.

All Burris has done is lead the CFL with 16 touchdowns through seven games, which puts him on pace for a career-high 41.

He’s doing it while giving way to backup pivot Drew Tate for short-yardage situations and also some playing time during blowout wins, such as Sunday’s 56-15 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos.

With the Stampeders defence leading the CFL for fewest yards allowed, giving up the fewest touchdowns and overall points, the team can win without a perfect offensive performance.

The pressure to force things isn’t there like it used to be, and Burris isn’t putting any extra stress on himself.

There have been times this season when the offence has struggled, but the blame was correctly not dumped on Burris’ doorstep.

In a Week 3 27-24 road loss to the Toronto Argonauts, the quarterback was charged with four interceptions, but it was a receiving corps with the dropsies that led to the downfall.

Because of that outing, the 35-year-old veteran leads the CFL with nine picks, but his overall numbers have improved steadily over recent outings.

His passer rating at that point of the Argos loss was 73.6, but he has it over 112.2 in three of the four starts since then, and has raised it to a respectable 96.4 overall.

During the first few years that Burris was the starter in Calgary, if he didn’t have a lights-out performance, the Stamps had no chance of winning.

Everyone in the organization believed it and the stats bore it out.

Now there is less flash and more game management, even if that means the fleet-footed Burris doesn’t do as much running as he used to.

In the past two weeks, both wins over West Division opponents, Burris has just three rushing attempts.

That is in part because Tate is running the short-yardage unit, but it also speaks to Burris letting those around him do the work.

He’s spreading the ball well among the receiving corps, and he’s letting the receivers pile up yards after catch.

Nik Lewis has put together quite a season in his first since 2004 without Jeremaine Copeland across from him in the slot, and the veteran is great at grabbing the spotlight.

The Stamps also have the second-best rushing attack in the CFL thanks, in large part, to the emergence of Jon Cornish as a viable second option to Joffrey Reynolds.

It was Reynolds who took the team’s most outstanding player nominee last season and won the West Division award.

If Burris keeps this up, he should finally get the most outstanding player award that went instead to Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo in 2008 and 2009.

Then again, if nobody is talking about how he’s leading his team into first place, the voters just might forget about the most pivotal part of the Stampeders.


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