Stamps bulk up on offensive line
By STEVE MacFARLANE, QMI Agency
His players were dropping out in droves around this time last year.
Tackle Jeff Pilon and guard Jesse Newman retired.
Fellow offensive lineman Dmitri Tsoumpas headed for the NFL.
Calgary Stampeders head coach/GM John Hufnagel couldn’t be blamed if he started calling every player in advance of this year’s training camp to make sure his guys still planned on playing.
But Hufnagel isn’t about to pick up the telephone.
“I wait for trouble to come to me,” Hufnagel said with a laugh Tuesday. “I don’t go looking for trouble.”
Some would say trouble has already found the Stampeders, who lost starting cornerbacks Dwight Anderson (free agency) and Brandon Browner (NFL) this off-season, and have a defensive line in flux with Corey Mace recovering from back surgery and Miguel Robede dealing with concussion issues.
They also cut Mike Labinjo loose Tuesday after a trade to Montreal was voided in January because he couldn’t pass his physical.
In case there are any more surprises on the offensive line, the Stamps are better prepared after signing 2010 CFL draft picks John Bender of Cochrane and Toronto’s J’Michael Deane Tuesday.
As for the defence, Hufnagel picked up Brian Bulcke in a draft-day trade to potentially shore up the front end, and selected Junior Turner and Akwasi Antwi in Sunday’s draft. wThey’ve also got prospects he hopes will pan out on the corners.
“We signed some excellent candidates,” Hufnagel said, mentioning Johnnie Dixon, who spent most of last season on the practice roster, and free-agent signing Geoff Tisdale, who can play corner and halfback.
“There are all kinds of options, but I do feel we have excellent candidates to get that job done.”