Rookie revved up for returning role

IAN BUSBY Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:46 PM ET

Landan Talley is getting a chance to show a spark.

With two games remaining in the CFL season, the Calgary Stampeders are going to take a look at the rookie receiver as a return specialist.

Talley has dressed for just one game, but he didn’t do any punt-returning.

He gets a shot to be main guy with the Stamps giving Deon Murphy a rest Friday when they face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8 p.m., TSN).

“They expect me to catch the ball, get upfield and make at least 10 yards,” Talley said.

“As long as we have that possession, that’s what they need from me.”

When Nik Lewis missed a game a month ago, Talley drew into the lineup and was part of a two-man kickoff return backfield.

The Lions went away from Murphy, and he had five kickoff returns for a total of 84 yards, although he did have a touchdown on a 12-yard reception late in the 29-10 loss.

Murphy has been a lightning rod of criticism from fans this season despite being second in the CFL in total yardage.

Certainly, after piling up 1,881 yards on his legs, a break may due him some good.

The rookie from Kansas State sits fourth in the league with a 22.8-yard average on kickoffs (among players with more than 10 returns) but he only averages 6.3 yards on punts.

He is fourth in punt-return yardage despite getting the most opportunities. The Stamps are one of two teams who don’t have a touchdown on returns this season.

Talley hopes to change that.

“Really, there are a lot of seams when you look at the blockers,” said the 23-year-old out of Lambuth. “It’s a matter of hitting them. The blocking is there. I just have to make sure I hit that hole.

“Once you get the first move in, get upfield, then it’s a matter of keeping on running. You have to break a tackle or two to get into the open.”

New hair apparent

DeVone Claybrooks may have a new partner in crime, but he’s not too excited about Justin Phillips’ new hairstyle.

With Miguel Robede (concussion) out this week, Claybrooks will likely get activated to play defensive tackle. Due to the ratio implications, Claybrooks will be on the field when Phillips swaps out fellow defensive end Robert McCune.

It was the same rotation previously done with Claybrooks and Mike Labinjo, before the latter went down with an arm injury.

Phillips shaved in lightning bolts into the sides of his unfashionable mullet.

“He’s Joe Dirt’s stunt man,” Claybrooks said. “He’s a good player and he’s getting a chance to play a lot this week. We’ll see what happens.”

Phillips defended the hair.

“It makes me aerodynamic and a bit more intimidating,” Phillips said with a laugh about the lightning bolts.

“If they do put me in more,

I don’t think we’ll miss a beat.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


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