Sending a message to Simpson

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:48 AM ET

CALGARY - They call Robert McCune the Hammer.

Apparently, his message didn’t hit home though.

During last week’s road victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, middle linebacker McCune tried to send some love to injured teammate Juwan Simpson, the man he’s replacing in the Calgary Stampeders’ starting lineup.

“Every time I made a play, I tried to give him a little shoutout to let him know I had his back,” McCune said.

“I gave him a little shoutout, but he said he didn’t even see it.

I was like, ‘Man,

I gave you a shoutout, and you wasn’t watching?’ ”

Simpson, who will also sit out Saturday’s clash with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, was tuned into the action, although he blamed background noise for the botched communication.

“The guys that were injured or practice roster or whatever, we watched the game at a restaurant, and they had a little music in the background, so I didn’t hear what was said,” Simpson said. “Then, I got these text messages that I got a shoutout — everybody was telling me.

“I hate that I missed it because he played great. It made me feel good, being back here, that I got a shoutout, so that was cool.”

McCune’s performance last weekend at Mosaic Stadium should make the Stamps feel better about the fact Simpson — the West Division’s nominee for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award last season — remains sidelined with a knee injury.

Switching from his usual spot at defensive end, the 32-year-old led the team with five tackles, and also registered his first sack of the campaign in the 22-18 victory over the Riders.

“I’m just glad the coaches have the confidence and faith in me to switch me around. I don’t want to let anybody down,” McCune said.

“It could always be better.

I need to tighten up on a couple of things, but overall, I felt like I did my part to help the team win. I just need to continue getting better, just learn off my mistakes I made and try to come out and play a better game against Hamilton.

“I’m just trying to build off what I did last week.”

When McCune arrived at McMahon Stadium for last year’s training camp, he was actually going head-to-head with Simpson for the starting job at middle linebacker — the position McCune played in the NFL.

Although he now sees the majority of his repetitions on the defensive front four, his stellar performance in Regina was a hardly a surprise to the guys who work with him.

“He’s done a tremendous job. There was never a question that he would come in and play well,” Simpson said.

“Ever since he’s been here, he’s done a great job every time he’s been out there, so

I didn’t expect anything less.”

That’s a pretty good shoutout, too.

Since Simpson will be standing on the sidelines during Saturday’s clash with the Tiger-Cats, McCune won’t have to rely on the TV cameras to relay his messages back to the usual starter this week.

“I might go over and give him a hug this time,” McCune added.

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/SUNGilbertson


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