McNeal a catch-all at any position

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

CALGARY -- There is a clean, crisp black jersey hanging in Reggie McNeal’s locker, but for how long no one is quite sure.

When McNeal steps onto the field every day during Calgary Stampeders training camp, he’s wearing white, signifying that he’s a receiver instead of a quarterback.

Breaking into the deep Stampeders’ receiving corps isn’t an easy proposition by any stretch, but McNeal does have a backup plan if he needs it.

The college pivot at Texas A&M hasn’t played his natural position since arriving in the CFL, but there is a fruit being dangled for him with the Stamps.

When he was acquired from the Toronto Argonauts in the trade that sent both Miguel Robede and P.K. Sam back east, Stamps GM-head coach John Hufnagel said McNeal would get a chance at pivot.

Although it hasn’t happened completely, the plan hasn’t been thrown out the window.

“Right now, at the beginning of practice I take QB snaps to get the footwork down,” McNeal said.

“After that, I’m strictly a receiver. Some things are up in the air. Maybe you will see some funky things this season.”

With three 1,000-yard receivers returning this season in Ken-Yon Rambo, Nik Lewis and Romby Bryant, the Stamps have their pass-catching corps basically set in terms of imports.

Plenty of bodies are trying out to be those players’ understudies, and a few of them have the same amount of CFL experience as McNeal.

Dudley Guice and Marko Mitchell both had cups of coffee with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Edmonton Eskimos respectively, while Larry Taylor is a dynamic returner who is showing flashes of being able to contribute to the offence.

Where McNeal fits is anybody’s guess, but there is no question he could contribute if he gets on the field.

He has 80 catches for 1,090 yards over three seasons with the Argos.

“I feel like I will fit in wherever the coaches put me,” McNeal said. “I will be learning from some of the best in Nik and Rambo. Every day, they are teaching me.”

One would think going from receiver back to quarterback and vice versa would be difficult, but McNeal feels it actually helps.

He said it’s easier just to play receiver because he doesn’t have to evaluate the entire field in a split second.

The 27-year-old also finds it much simpler to read a defence and find the open spot when he’s running receiver routes.

“When I play football, I look at everything as a quarterback anyway,” McNeal said. “When I’m preparing, I look at things like a QB. So when they let me get back at QB, I love it.

“When I’m a receiver, everything slows down.”

McNeal has only attempted two passes in the CFL over three seasons, but he’s ready any time he’s called upon.

“I’m a player. I’m an athlete,” McNeal added. “I’m blessed to do both, so whichever one they put me at, that’s what I will do full throttle.”

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