CALGARY - The Calgary Stampeders’ secondary hasn’t been silenced.
It’s just that the recipients of all that chatter have changed.
With the off-season departure of notorious trash-talkers Dwight Anderson and Brandon Browner, this unit now spends more time exchanging words with one another.
“We talk so much, we feel like this thing is a marriage out here,” said Stamps halfback Keon Raymond. “And me being married, I know communication is the key.”
Anderson, who makes his return to McMahon Stadium for Saturday’s matinee as a member of the Montreal Alouettes, can flap his gums as fast as any guy in the three-down football ranks.
Browner, who seems to be capitalizing on his audition with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, was also well-known for running his mouth on the field.
Anderson and Browner were both all-stars during their stint with the Stamps, but their replacements — free-agent acquisition Geoff Tisdale and former New Orleans Saints reserve Greg Fassitt — seem to go about their business with less banter.
Unless, of course, they’re going back and forth with another guy in Red & White.
“Our communication is definitely with each other,” Raymond said. “I know if a guy has got my back, I’ve got his back, things like that. We’re more walk the walk than talk the talk. We’re definitely concentrating on walking and making plays out there, not worried about talking to receivers or doing too much of anything like that.
“We feel like we don’t have to talk to show what you can do.”
With the Alouettes (5-2) coming to town for Saturday’s date with the Stamps (5-2), it only seems fitting that much of the chatter has been about Anderson.
In years past, halfback Brandon Smith was often spotted relaying playcalls to the chatterbox cornerback. Now in their fourth campaigns with the Stamps, Smith and Raymond are the elder statesmen of Calgary’s secondary.
Asked after Thursday’s practice about who’s filled the leadership role created by the off-season departures, Stamps head coach John Hufnagel replied, “the leaders of the defence didn’t leave this football team.”
Apparently, just the chatterboxes are gone.
Smith wasn’t trying to disparage his former teammates, but he admitted the latest edition of the Stamps secondary is a more cohesive unit.
“We have a lot of chemistry. We don’t argue. We don’t have problems with each other. We all get along with each other and we all respect each other,” Smith said. “We don’t get on guys when a guy gives up a play or gets a penalty or blows an assignment. We don’t hoot and holler, we just ask him what happened and make sure he knows what’s going on so we can move on to the next play.
“We’re all kind of modest, down-to-earth guys and we know nobody is perfect. Everyone can make a mistake at any given time and we understand that and we know that’s football. We all want to win, but we know that yelling at a guy or getting on his case is not going to make a situation better.”
It’s hard to believe, but the Stamps might be in a better situation after losing their all-star cornerbacks.
Even with Fassitt, Tisdale and starting safety Demetrice Morley still learning the system, Calgary’s defence ranks as the CFL’s second-stingiest in passing yards surrendered per game (255.9) and is third in interceptions with nine.
As for trash-talk? This group might be ranked dead-last in that category.
“We’re just focused on our business. We have a hard enough job covering receivers. Adding that element of trying to talk and intimidate the other team, it’s not really our character,” Smith said. “The secondary that we have now, we all just sort of do the same thing — we let our plays do the talking for us.”