For two months, J’Micheal Deane has dropped back in pass protection to step in front of oncoming beasts.
On Tuesday, when he switched colours and crossed the CFL’s line of scrimmage, and he actually felt bad about smacking into the hoggies he considers close friends.
“I came off the ball and hit them, then I said, ‘Dang, I’m sorry,’ ” said the Calgary Stampeders rookie. “I know how it feels to have someone run into you. They all said, ‘No problem.’
“They are being good sports about it. I’m being called a little bit of a traitor, but whatever … It’s all good.”
With a plethora of Canadian players out due to injury, the Stamps are trying to find out if they can use Deane in a different way than how they drafted him.
The 2010 pick out of Michigan State and a product of Hinton, Alta., spent Tuesday’s practice at defensive tackle. He started two games this season at right guard before Dimitri Tsoumpas recovered from injury, making Deane a healthy scratch the past two weeks.
If he can show enough progress at defensive tackle, Deane could be placed on the active roster — as a backup on both sides of the football — for Saturday’s game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina.
“We’re experimenting,” said Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel. “We’re going to see in an emergency whether he would be able to fill the position.
“The way things are going and the way our Canadian talent is getting hit, can this be a possibility? If we lose another Canadian on the defence, where are we going from there?
“I will have options, so we have to find out if that’s an option. He got lined up correctly, at least.”
The Stamps have four Canadian players on the nine-game injured list, including defensive tackle Corey Mace of B.C., who went out in Week 1 with a season-ending torn Achilles.
Quebec native Adrian Davis has started the past three games at tackle, but the Stamps don’t have a natural non-import backup at that spot.
Montreal’s Shawn Mayne dressed for Week 3 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but he’s more of a defensive end. Every week, it seems the Stamps take an injury hit to their starting roster.
They lost Juwan Simpson (knee) and Karl McCartney (hamstring) in Saturday’s 24-19 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos.
Fellow import Robert McCune replaces Simpson in the starting lineup, while Daren Stone should play in place of non-import McCartney after missing two games with a hamstring problem, as well.
With McCartney out, there is room for another Canadian and Deane fits the bill.
To help with Canadian depth, the Stamps signed University of Montreal product Peter Carriere, who just finished playing outside linebacker for Team Canada at the 2011 world championship of American football in Austria.
If Deane does have to play defensive tackle, it’s not like he’s completely foreign to the position. As a teenager, he was always on the defensive side, and it wasn’t until he reached Michigan State when he moved to offence.
At least, Hufnagel is giving the 25-year-old a chance to show what he can do with plenty of practice time.
“You can’t learn from the sidelines,” Deane said. “You need to get reps. They are giving me the reps right now to speed the learning process.
“I’m not just sitting and looking at film.”