Opportunity for knockout

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

CALGARY - Brandon Smith walked into his local gym in Oakland just days before departing to Calgary this May and ran into a childhood friend.

This old pal, a Little League teammate to the Calgary Stampeders defensive back and then high school opponent, said he was coming up to Canada for football and was pumped. It turns out the excitement Yonus Davis felt at that time has led to anxiety in seven other CFL cities.

Smith didn't know it at the time, but when Davis went to the B.C. Lions, the Stamps would be the ones paying close attention to the running back/return specialist.

"I knew he was going to be a good player, but I didn't know how he would find a role there," Smith said. "I wasn't sure if he would be on special teams or the starting running back. He took whatever position they gave him and made the most out of it.

"If you put him in the backfield, he runs it in for touchdowns. If they put him back there on kicks, he runs those in for touchdowns. He's a good player. He's explosive and taking every opportunity to make things happen."

On Friday, the Stamps will be paying close attention to the 26-year-old rookie.

A month ago, Davis piled up 244 all-purpose yards in a 29-10 win over the Stamps. He was personally responsible for two field goals with a 37-yard punt return and a 72-yard kickoff return.

At that time, the Stamps cover teams were without defensive lineman Robert McCune, and now they will have to deal with the loss of linebacker Karl McCartney (ribs).

"Yonus did have a good game against us the last time," said Stampeders special teams coach Mark Kilam.

"Our guys are all aware of what he did last week. I don't expect to see a similar performance this time. He's a tremendous competitor. That jumps out at you when you look at the tape. He doesn't go down after the first hit. He's explosive in the hole, and he can break arm tackles. He can be a game changer if you don't do your job against him."

McCartney leads the Stamps with 17 special-teams tackles this season, while linebacker Juwan Simpson is second with 16 and McCune third with 14.

Stamps head coach John Hufnagel said that running back Jesse Lumsden is being considered to get activated for the non-import McCartney, but it's more likely that defensive back Taurean Allen will get added instead.

Whatever happens, neither will be as strong a tackler as McCartney.

"Every time you lose a core special teams guy, that affects your whole team," Kilam said. "You are moving guys from different spots who haven't played in those spots."

Davis has done well against the entire league, not just the Stamps. He has three rushing touchdowns -- one on a reception, one on a punt return against the Edmonton Eskimos, and another on a kickoff against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

When he does score, Davis is known to go overboard with celebrations. He held the ball with one hand for nearly 20 yards in scoring on a run against the Riders, and then he jumped into a model airplane on the sidelines after scoring on the kickoff in Winnipeg.

It doesn't surprise Smith, who knows how fired up Davis gets. He just hopes not to see it Friday.

"He gets excited when he makes plays," Smith said. "This is what he loves to do and he's been doing it for so long."


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