In the aftermath of another premature playoff exit, the Calgary Stampeders will continue to search for answers.
On the plus side, their seemingly endless search for a reliable CFL return man might finally be over.
Although there wasn’t a pile of positives in Sunday’s season-ending loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, an impressive outing from speedster Landan Talley offers a glimmer of hope the Stamps have unearthed a special-teams ace.
“I honestly believe that was my best game as a CFLer. Hopefully, there will be more to come in future years,” Talley said during Monday’s clean-up day at McMahon Stadium.
“But we didn’t win, so that success, it goes right out the window. It’s good for personal reasons, but unless we come together as a team and win the game, it really doesn’t matter.”
They lost the game, but Talley likely won a job for next season.
The 23-year-old from little-known Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn., was stashed on the Stamps practice roster for the majority of the summer but suited up for four games and made the most of his limited audition.
He saved his finest outing for Sunday’s West final against the Riders, racking up 81 yards on a pair of kick returns. His total of 66 yards on six punt returns might not seem that impressive, but that number would’ve been close to triple-digits if a 33-yard scamper wasn’t negated by a pair of illegal-block penalties taken by his Stamps teammates.
The rookie returner did bobble one punt, but he managed to knock the ball out of bounds before anybody in a green jersey arrived at the scene.
In his post-game comments, Stamps sideline boss John Hufnagel called Talley’s performance the ‘bright spot’ for the home side in the playoff loss.
Even though he had to clean out his locker the following day, the 6-foot,
187-lb. buzzsaw couldn’t conceal a grin after learning of that compliment.
“Hearing that from him, that’s big,” Talley said. “That’s our head coach, so for him to say something like that, it puts a smile on my face knowing that I’m doing something right. Just to hear him say something good about you, it has me fulfilled.”
Talley couldn’t find a job last season, instead serving as an assistant coach at his old high school in Florida and using the weight-room there to bulk up while he waited for an opportunity.
He’s heading back to the Sunshine State this week, although he’d rather be in ice-cold Edmonton playing in the Grey Cup game — especially after the best performance of his professional career.
“I was counting on that we were going to be playing this week,” Talley said. “Now, I’m gonna be at home — just bored.
“I mean, I know I have a lot of stuff to do to improve myself, but I’d rather be here playing football.”