Tate fine playing second fiddle to Burris

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

CALGARY - That Drew Tate is sneaky.

But the Calgary Stampeders’ second-string quarterback and short-yardage specialist isn’t going to run away with a starting job just yet.

“The kid is going to be a great player and I definitely see a bright future ahead of him,” smiled undisputed Stamps leader Henry Burris. “But right now, it’s all about him being patient because I’m hoping to hang around for a little bit longer.”

With nothing to lose — or gain — in Friday’s regular-season finale against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Burris could be hanging around the sidelines for a big chunk of the contest. He will definitely see a bit of action at Canad Inns Stadium, but Tate is anticipating an extended audition.

“It’s not how much do I get to play, it’s what do I do with the opportunity when I get to play. That’s how I look at it,” Tate said. “It’s just another opportunity for another guy to get in and play and hopefully do something to get noticed. That’s basically how it is in pro football — you’ve got to do something to get noticed and try to stay on the field as long as possible.”

Tate has certainly cashed in on his cameo appearances so far this season.

He’s had at least one rushing attempt in every outing since mid-July, traversing 162 yards — not bad for a guy that specializes in the sneak — and scoring five touchdowns with his feet.

He has also tossed five touchdown strikes, completing 29-of-38 passing attempts 343 yards and an astounding 147.2 efficiency rating.

In last Friday’s victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, he also delivered a crucial cut-block on defensive back Ryan Hinds to help Joffrey Reynolds reach the endzone.

In some other cities, those numbers could spark a quarterback controversy.

Not here. Not with Smilin’ Hank at the helm.

While injuries will force the Blue Bombers to give fourth-string gunslinger Joey Elliott his second straight start behind centre, Burris has once again been equal parts durable and reliable for the Stamps, leaving his 27-year-old understudy to wait for short-yardage situations and mop-up appearances.

“He’s an unbelievable guy to play behind,” Tate said. “He’s a real pro. He comes to work every day and he’s always in a good mood and he’s excited to be here, and that’s really what it is at this level — you have to be excited or you’re not going to make it. You have to bring it every day.

“Just watching him play and listening to him, it’s been awesome. It’s been great.”

Tate is now in his fourth CFL campaign, including a couple of seasons on the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ practice roster.

Burris, too, had to bide some time before getting his shot as a starter.

“You get to see somebody else play — in my case it was Dave (Dickenson) and Jeff Garcia — and those guys are doing great things and you marvel at what they’re doing and you learn from what they’re doing,” Burris said. “But you ache for the opportunity to get in there and show the world what you can do, as well. And when you’re able to get in there, you want to make sure you do positive things.”

That’s exactly what Tate will want to accomplish in Winnipeg.

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