CALGARY - A year ago at this time, their best receiver was recovering from knee surgery, the offensive line was a jumbled mess, and they were adopting a new system.
Even with all those challenges, the Calgary Stampeders had the eighth-best offence in terms of yardage all-time.
Heading into next weekend’s training camp, the Stamps will get a full year from Ken-Yon Rambo, enjoy some continuity on the line and are more comfortable with offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson’s play-calling.
In the off-season, Stamps GM-head coach John Hufnagel didn’t rest on those laurels of 2010.
The team did lose left tackle Ben Archibald to free-agency, but it added the dynamic Larry Taylor as well as intriguing Canadian Anthony Parker to the receiving corps.
Oh, and the Stamps do have the reigning league most outstanding player at quarterback in Henry Burris, who just seems to be getting better.
“The fact we have everybody coming back except for Archie, it does mean that we will have a great year,” Burris said.
“You add guys like Larry Taylor, who is one of the most dangerous guys with the balls in his hands in the league, there will be some excitement with our offence.
“There are so many things we can throw at opposing defences. Don’t forget about Joffrey (Reynolds) and Corndog (Jon Cornish) running the ball.”
In building a 9-1 record to start 2010, Burris and the Stamps offence was on fire, scoring more than 35 points in five straight games.
They cruised to the West Division title after scoring a league-high 626 points, the most for the franchise since 1995.
After one season as the quarterbacks coach and play-caller, Dickenson gained some buzz around the West Division as a possible head coach, even interviewing in Edmonton.
He stayed with the Stamps to take the promotion to offensive co-ordinator. With another year together, Burris expects the creativity to keep flowing from Dickenson’s brain and onto the field.
“We’ve been together for just that much longer now, and we all understand how Dave thinks,” Burris said.
“To go through Year One, it will be much better for us to communicate and have things running smoothly compared with last year.”
Burris and several other teammates greeted fans inside the Viper Dome Saturday during the annual Fanfest.
Of course, Burris had plenty of smiles, but it was a long off-season thinking what could have been — again.
Losing to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the fourth times in five seasons, this one stung a little longer.
“It hurts because we had a better team than Saskatchewan,” Burris said about the 13-5 Stamps compared with the 10-8 Riders. “That’s all everybody talked about because we knew we were a better team than them. I’m looking forward to seeing the hunger with our guys when they arrive at camp.
“The new guys will pick up on the energy and focus of the team and that’s what we’re expecting. I don’t think it’s all about beating Saskatchewan. This is a new chapter. They are the defending (West Division) champions, and if you want to be the champs, you must beat the champs.”