Short time-frame for Stamps to sort out QB duties

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:18 AM ET

CALGARY - John Hufnagel will have a short period to figure out his short-yardage situation.

One day, actually.

When the Calgary Stampeders lost Drew Tate to a dislocated shoulder, they lost their safety net at quarterback but also a key contributor in the offence.

For almost a full calendar year, Tate has taken the short-yardage plunges, which limits the punishment Henry Burris will take during a game.

Burris can do the job if needed, but now with Tate out, an injury to the star pivot would hurt so much more.

“I would like it to be someone other than Henry,” said Hufnagel, the team’s GM-head coach.

The options are rookie Brad Sinopoli, who will make his CFL debut Friday against the Toronto Argonauts, or veteran Michael Bishop, who hasn’t had his hands on a CFL football since the 2009 season.

Bishop is working out his passport issues and will hop on a plane Tuesday from Houston. He’s expected to sign a contract and be at practice Wednesday, but then the week of preparation runs out. There is a quick walkthrough Thursday, and then it’s game day, when the Stamps’ regular season kicks off.

Hufnagel will hold off on the short-yardage decision until he sees Bishop in a helmet and pads.

At 6-foot-1, 215-lb., there is no question Bishop can do the job, as he used to be a beast rushing the ball while with the Argonauts.

But he’s been off since finishing out the 2009 season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“Depending on when we get him in here, we will get him comfortable with what we do, and we’ll see if get him running short yardage,” Burris said.

“I train hard. Trust me, I lift a lot of heavy weights to make sure I’m ready to get in there and stay healthy. If need be, I will do it.

“It never hurts to see the other guys in there getting their feet wet a bit. It’s good for the backup to be ready to go.”

Burris is right about one thing: He’s been durable the last few seasons. The last time he missed a start was in 2007, when he had the same type of injury Tate has now — a dislocated shoulder.

If he were to get hurt Friday, the Stamps would be in rough shape.

“Don’t jinx me,” Burris said with a laugh. “I never think about it. I train my butt off so I don’t have to think about that scenario. That’s why you put in the off-season training.”

The situation has put a focus on Sinopoli, the fourth-round draft pick out of the University of Ottawa.

There’s a chance the freshman QB could be listed as a No. 2 pivot when the Stamps face the Argos, which would be a coup for the Canadian.

He would welcome the chance to take the ball and try to make first downs, although there is a certain amount of pressure involved in the job.

“I’m not sure if I’m good or bad at it,” Sinopoli said. “It’s a thing all quarterbacks have done going through university. I didn’t have someone to come in on my short-yardage situations. I’ve done it before.

“Any time you get into the game — just like holding (the football for field-goal attempts) — the experience of being on the field is a good one.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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