Bishop hits field with Stamps

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

CALGARY - Michael Bishop and Henry Burris were already linked in McMahon Stadium lore.

The rocket-armed righties both belong to an exclusive group of quarterbacks that have bounced a football off the speaker that hangs high above the turf at the home of the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders.

Bishop officially joined the Stamps for Wednesday’s practice, but his first on-field session with Burris & Co. didn’t include any horseplay.

“Back in the day, I used to hit that thing regularly. Probably once a week in my first couple of years,” Burris said.

“But Bishop could probably still hit it. He has an unreal arm. For me, those days are over. I’ll look at it and tell you about all the stories, and I’ll move on from there.”

A few minutes later, Bishop was reminding reporters he’s no longer an impressionable youngster, either.

With just one full practice session and a walkthrough before Friday’s season-opener against the Toronto Argonauts (7 p.m., TSN, QR77), the 35-year-old — he’s about 10 months younger than Burris — has been cramming to learn the Stamps playbook and wasn’t wasting any time testing his arm-strength with moonshots.

“Oh no, I’m retired from that,” Bishop grinned. “I may get close, but I don’t want to hurt my arm trying.”

With 124 CFL appearances on his resume, it’s Bishop’s experience that appealed to the Stamps as they searched for a fill-in for injured second-stringer Drew Tate, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in last week’s pre-season finale.

The gunslinger from Galveston, Texas, has racked up 11,774 passing yards and tossed 66 touchdown strikes in eight CFL campaigns, including stints with the Argos, Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

It’s been about 20 months since he took a snap, and he didn’t even have an up-to-date passport, but Bishop seemed genuinely excited to be back on the football field.

During Friday’s season-opener, he might be inserted in short-yardage situations.

Rookie Brad Sinopoli is their other option under centre.

“To be honest with you,

I had prepared for life without football,” Bishop said. “I was at home enjoying myself, being around my family, doing the things that I hadn’t had a chance to do since playing football. But you can’t control what God’s plan is. You never know what’s going to happen. You can’t control the timing. You’ve just got to be ready when you’re called.

“I’m not looking at it as one last chance at putting on the helmet,” he added. “My thing is, I can’t control what happens. You never think an injury is going to come like what happened to Tate. You don’t sit at home saying, ‘I’ll wait on a phone call.’ But the phone call came, and it was a situation where there was an opportunity to come and contribute to a football team, a very good football team.

“I’ll come up and do my part and learn as much as I can. If I’ve got to come in and run a couple sneaks and we move the ball and get a first down, that’s my part.”


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