Chance for Stamps to right the ship

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:50 AM ET

EDMONTON - They say No. 1 is the loneliest number.

That certainly could’ve been the case this week in Calgary.

Stampeders starting quarterback Henry Burris has been a lightning-rod for criticism after an awful performance by his entire team in a 35-7 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos in the Labour Day Classic, facing the kind of scathing assessment only a handful of other CFLers can even comprehend.

“You hear the boos in the last game — on Labour Day — and you feel for the guy because we play a tough position,” said Eskimos backup gunslinger Kerry Joseph.

“We know, as quarterbacks, that you’ve gotta take the good with the bad. I think that some people don’t really understand what it takes to be a quarterback and what we have to go through physically and mentally to prepare for a game. And you’re not going to be at your best all the time, and I think some fans don’t realize that. You just have to have the nerves and the thick skin to be able to deal with that, and I think Hank has done a great job of that.

“Quarterbacks feel for each other because you know what he’s going through, because you’re back there. People from the outside really don’t know. Until you have to sit there and know what everybody is doing on the field, take your reads, know what the defence is doing and stand in there with your eyes down the field knowing you have a 250-lb. linebacker going full-steam ahead trying to take your head off and you’ve still gotta stand in there and throw the ball ...

“It’s almost like looking down the barrel of a gun.”

Burris has been a popular target in Cowtown after his 13-of-23 passing performance on Labour Day, which included one touchdown strike, two interceptions and a pair of fumbles. He was booed in the second half of the loss and has had his individual statline picked apart.

“That’s just part of being a professional athlete. If you’re not doing what people think you should be doing, they’re going to question it, especially at the position we play,” said Eskimos starter Ricky Ray.

“It’s such an overpraised position when you’re winning, and you face a lot of criticism when you’re not winning.”

For Burris, the good news is a solid showing in Friday’s Labour Day Replay at Commonwealth Stadium (7 p.m., TSN, QR77) should erase any memories of the stinker.

On Thursday afternoon, Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed told reporters his team didn’t bother to study film from Monday’s Labour Day Classic, instead focusing on previous footage of the Stamps because teams “revert to what they are” in short weeks.

Stamps fans are keeping their fingers crossed Burris reverts to his usual self in Friday’s Labour Day Replay.

“I know in the past, when Ricky or Kerry or one of those guys would have a bad game, I always told our defence, ‘Y’all be ready, because that guy is going to bring it,’ ” Burris said.

That’s exactly what the Eskimos are bracing for in Friday’s rematch at Commonwealth Stadium.

Joseph, whose slate of 130 CFL appearances includes a few that didn’t go as planned, figures the Stampeders’ franchise player with be anxious to atone for the sub-par performance.

Just like he would be.

“In a situation like that, you hope for a short week like this because now you can get back out there and play the game. I know that’s what Henry is probably thinking — I get another opportunity to right the ship,” Joseph said. “That’s what you feel as a quarterback. You’re not going to be at your best all the time, but when you have games like that, you feel like you let the team down.

“You always want to be able to come back and rejuvenate yourself. That’s what he’s going to be gunning for.”


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