Suddenly, the most experienced offensive lineman for the Calgary Stampeders is a first-round draft pick in 2008.
Yet the Stamps’ line will enter 2011 training camp with less turnover than a year ago, despite officially saying good-bye to veteran leader Rob Lazeo.
Lazeo was given the President’s Ring Wednesday during a luncheon at Flames Central for his leadership contributions in 2010, when he was a positive influence despite not being in a starting role until late in the season.
Now Lazeo is retired, and the Stamps hoggie with the most starts under his belt is Dmitri Tsoumpas.
It’s going to be a young group, as Dan Comiskey and Ben Archibald have also departed, but Lazeo isn’t worried about them.
“Those guys will develop into their roles quickly,” said Lazeo, who was roasted in a video tribute. “The thing about football is when the older guys leave, naturally the younger guys step into those roles. They will be fine.”
A year ago, with Tsoumpas on an NFL stint, the Stamps started the season with only one returning starter from the previous season.
This year, there could be only one major change in replacing Archibald at left tackle. Tim O’Neill should take over the centre position where Lazeo played, but O’Neill did make 13 starts in 2010.
While Tsoumpas is now the most experienced veteran, he isn’t the vocal type like Lazeo, so he’s not sure how the leadership dynamic will take hold.
“Obviously, leaders step up and take things as they happen,” Tsoumpas. “I will see how it goes and see how the young guys respond and who they respond to. We will go from there.
“The award says a lot for the guy Rob is. He will be missed. It’s a big deal losing somebody like that.”