Stamps have stepped up their game

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:26 PM ET

What a difference a year can make.

On Halloween night last fall, reporters gathered around Nik Lewis' locker to quiz the Calgary Stampeders slotback -- finally -- about his first touchdown of the season.

Heading into Friday's regular-season finale against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Lewis has made nine trips to the endzone.

He'd be the leading touchdown-getter on several teams, but not this one.

After notching a hat-trick of majors in Friday's 55-24 de-clawing of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at McMahon Stadium, speedy receiver Romby Bryant has crossed the goal-stripe 14 times this summer.

Not bad for a guy that didn't celebrate a single score last season.

"It makes a huge difference," said Stamps quarterback Henry Burris, the league leader with 37 touchdown strikes through the air. "Our passing game has really stepped it up this year. We were challenged to try out some new things in our offence -- we added some new passing attack plays to our repertoire -- and the guys have stepped up and accepted that responsibility and everybody is getting to the positions they're supposed to be in."

Where they're getting to is the endzone.

After combining for just one major last season, Bryant and Lewis are now the most dangerous touchdown tandem in the three-down ranks.

Add seven receiving scores from Ken-Yon Rambo, four from Deon Murphy and a couple from both Arjei Franklin and fullback Rob Cote, and there's little doubt John Hufnagel's squad boasts the CFL's most explosive aerial attack.

"I think we just know our roles and we're making big plays," Lewis said. "Everybody just understands their role and accepts their role, and we're going out there and playing for each other."

The result has been an intriguing -- and entertaining -- tale of offensive one-upmanship.

Bryant, who'd rather have a root canal than chat about his personal achievements -- or anything, really -- with the media, has made more visits to the endzone than any other CFL receiver so far this season.

In fact, the 30-year-old has scored as many touchdowns through the air as the Edmonton Eskimos have managed as a team. Ditto for the Toronto Argonauts.

No wonder Lewis was joking after Friday's victory that reporters should tell former Stamps star and current Argonauts receiving leader Jeremaine Copeland that "we've upgraded you."

After arriving in last year's blockbuster swap with the Blue Bombers, Bryant has obviously benefited from a full season to study the playbook.

Among Stamps greats, only Allen Pitts, Terry Evanshen, Dave Sapunjis and Travis Moore have scored more receiving touchdowns in one season.

Hufnagel saw flashes of it last summer. Now, Bryant's game-breaking talents are on full display.

"I don't see any difference," Hufnagel said. "He was a big-play guy for us last year, it's that a lot of his catches ended up inside the five instead of in the endzone. He's been here for a full year, so that allows him to have more opportunities to put the ball in his endzone.

"Is he getting better? Yes, he's getting better but that's just because that's his job."

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/WesGilbertson


Videos

Photos