Stamps' Biscuit a full-meal deal

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 PM ET

By his own admission, the man they call Biscuit was cooked.

When the Calgary Stampeders returned from their bye-week last season, defensive line addition DeVone Claybrooks was hitting the field for his first football practice in months.

“I was soooo tired,” Claybrooks recalled. “I was straight off the streets, and they made me do individual drills and they made do the reps. Oh,

I was blown. I was so tired.

“It was definitely an awakening.”

Claybrooks’ conditioning isn’t the only thing that has improved.

When the 6-foot-3, 303 lb.

defensive tackle arrived at McMahon Stadium, the Stamps had a 3-4 record and were sitting at the bottom of the league in both net rushing yards against and average ground yards surrendered per game.

Fast-forward a dozen months, and Claybrooks & Co. lead the loop in both categories. Through seven outings, the Stamps (6-1) have limited opponents to just 92.1 rushing yards per game.

“We’ve got a chemistry and a cohesiveness that we didn’t have last year,” Claybrooks said. “Last year, at this time, we were reeling, trying to shore up some holes, and I’m one of the guys they brought in to fix some holes. Now, we’ve got a full training camp under our belt, and you can see that we’re reaping the benefits ...

“We’re growing as a team. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and if we didn’t go through those testaments last year at this time, we wouldn’t know how to handle the success.”

Claybrooks, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, isn’t one to boast about his own accomplishments. He doesn’t want too much credit for the Stamps resurgence against the run. Ask him a question about himself, and you’ll likely get an answer that begins with “we.”

Through six outings this summer, Claybrooks has registered 11 tackles and one sack, pretty standard stats for an interior defensive lineman. The numbers, though, don’t tell the whole story.

“He’s been that solid veteran presence that we need up front,” said defensive end Mike Labinjo. “He’s one of those guys that helps out the younger guys all the time. He’s like another coach. We call him a coach all the time, even though he hates it. But that’s what he means to us right now.”

Added Stamps head coach John Hufnagel: “DeVone brings a lot of maturity, a lot of leadership, a lot of knowledge and excellent play, so you get the full package.”

That’s a glowing review from the usually reserved Hufnagel. Perhaps more telling is the fact the Stamps haven’t really tinkered with the defensive line, although they did acquire prospect Corey Mace in a trade with the Toronto Argonauts.

The 32-year-old Claybrooks figures the Stamps have a good thing going, but he’s not getting too comfortable.

“I’ve worked in a few scouting departments, so I know that you’re always looking to upgrade and you’re always looking to evaluate,” Claybrooks said.

“One thing I can applaud about our staff is that if it’s not broke, you don’t fix it. But at the same time, we know that they hold us to a high standard, and once we get lax on that standard, then that’s on us.

“If we’re not getting it done, they’ll bring somebody else in to get it done. We know this side of the business, that the door is never closed, so you can’t get too complacent and too confident in your game until you maintain that level.”


Videos

Photos