CALGARY - While teammates were auditioning for jobs Wednesday night at McMahon Stadium, Drew Tate had already won an important one.
Already installed as the backup quarterback, Tate gets another big role this year, one that he’s done briefly in the past to some success.
He will be Henry Burris’ new road roommate.
The job isn’t a tough one, the Calgary Stampeders starting pivot says. All he asks is you talk football during the waking hours and be quiet when it’s time for the father of two to get some sleep while away from the family.
“I like to be roomed with a veteran,” said Burris, whose roommate for the past two seasons, Ryan Thelwell, retired this off-season.
“When I was with Thelwell, he was a starting receiver. We were able to communicate what he was seeing and what I was seeing. With Drew, it will help us both get on the same page.
“He knows some of my thoughts, and he knows some things he can watch for me.”
Sharing a hotel room with somebody doesn’t sound like a job, but Burris thrives when he has a sounding board.
During the 2008 season, veteran quarterback Dave Dickenson was his partner, and they would talk defences into the night, sometimes waking from dreams to remind each other of coverage nuances.
Even after Dickenson was injured midway through the season and couldn’t play, the future Stamps offensive co-ordinator went on the road.
Burris’ relationship with Tate is also growing in that direction. The fact Burris chose him to be his roomie shows how far Tate has come with the team in the past year.
The Iowa product entered last year’s training camp still in a battle with Barrick Nealy for the backup’s spot. Nealy retired during camp, opening things up for Tate, and the low-key Texan took the opportunity and ran with it.
A few weeks into the season, Tate was given the short-yardage duties full-time, taking a few unnecessary hits off Burris. He also handled major cleanup time in blowout wins and put up huge numbers.
Tate’s rating of 133.9 was by far the best in the CFL.
This season, he feels more comfortable coming into camp as this is the second year under the play-calling of Dickenson, who was elevated to offensive co-ordinator this off-season.
“You can’t simulate games in the off-season, but I got some experience from playing last year and getting more reps this year, so it’s carrying over,” Tate said. “I should be that much quicker and sharper now.”
Burris believes he’s an easy guy to room with. He doesn’t ask much of a roommate in terms of chores, and isn’t too picky about cleanliness, either.
“I like to do things myself,” Burris said. “I’m an independent person as far as that goes. Drew and I have been roommates in the past. I don’t foresee any bumps in the road.
“I’m a hermit. When it’s time to grab dinner, I go grab it and head back to the room to watch film. I’m usually watching film all the time. I grab a steak and then head for bed.”