Holiday's over for Stampeders

Quarterback Henry Burris and the Calgary Stampeders return to work Sunday after a bye-week break....

Quarterback Henry Burris and the Calgary Stampeders return to work Sunday after a bye-week break. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:54 AM ET

Everybodyís been there.

And regardless of your career or calling, most people would agree itís tough to find motivation to return after a week away from the workplace.

Sounds like the slackers will stick out Sunday morning at McMahon Stadium.

ďWe want to improve our fundamentals, so a lot of the practice will be individual, concentrating on getting better in the fundamental department so we donít let that slip,Ē said Calgary Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel.

ďAlso, to get back into football rhythm. Iím expecting a high-energy practice (Sunday). We wonít be in pads, but weíll be out there flying around trying to become a better football team.Ē

The Stamps will return to the McMahon Stadium turf Sunday, hitting the practice field for the first time after a six-day layoff.

When the squad split for its bye week last season, it was 3-4 and coming off a last-minute loss to the provincial-rival Edmonton Eskimos.

What a difference a year can make.

Hufnagelís team is 6-1, off to their best start in a decade and likely still smiling after a historic 56-15 thumping of the Eskimos last weekend.

At the beginning of this season, many fans and so-called experts salivated at the thought of a four-team battle for bragging rights in the West Division. Hasnít exactly shaped up that way.

The Stamps are alone atop the standings, two points clear of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (5-2), while the Eskimos (1-6) and B.C. Lions (1-6) have only beaten each other, raising the possibility of an East Division outfit scoring a crossover playoff berth for the first time.

Suffice to say, bye week was a little less stressful for the front-runners.

As players scattered for a few days, Hufnagel admitted he hoped to sneak out of the office with his fishing rod or golf clubs, while Roughriders skipper Ken Miller has even had time to tweet about his bye week.

Meanwhile, Eskimos bench boss Richie Hall shook up his coaching staff and fielded the same olí questions about his own job security. In B.C., big cheese Wally Buono insisted his personnel isnít a problem despite six consecutive losses.

Hufnagelís Horsemen will test that theory this week.

The Stamps travel to Empire Fields for a Friday night date with the Leos, the second of four meetings between the West Division rivals this season.

The Stamps left Vancouver with a 27-22 victory two weeks ago, and with Lions quarterback Casey Printers close to returning from injury, it wouldnít be a shock to see another close game.

After all, Hufnagel knows better than to take Buonoís boys lightly.

Thatís why he wonít tolerate any sluggishness when his troops return to the field Sunday.

Trade with Argos official

The Stampeders have finalized their trade with the Toronto Argonauts, officially welcoming defensive lineman Corey Mace to the fold.


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