Kick-return battle heats up in Calgary

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

CALGARY - Landan Talley and LaMarcus Coker are in constant competition with each other.

And not just on the field, where the two Calgary Stampeders will vie for kick-return duties during this week’s practices.

“Just the other week we went to the go-karts and we were just racing,” Talley said with an excited grade-school kid’s smile.

“There’s always a competition going on between us. But it’s all fun and games.

“We hang out a lot. We just try to keep it interesting so we’re not stuck in the house all the time.”

The pair will go head-to-head in Moncton this week as head coach John Hufnagel continues to hold auditions for injured return man Larry Taylor’s spot.

Talley, who could be activated early from the nine-game injured reserve, said the two will remain close despite the outcome of this latest competition.

“Whoever plays is who (the coaching staff) believes is the best man at that time,” Talley said.

“And the other one’s going to be right there supporting him the whole way.”

For Coker, a rookie who has spent the entire season on the practice roster, this is the opportunity he’s been waiting for.

“We all want our opportunity to play,” the freshman running back said. “But I understand, coming in, we had Larry Taylor and Joffrey (Reynolds) — two established guys in this league.

“With me being a rookie, whatever I did in college didn’t matter. It was time to prove myself as a Stampeder.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to do every day in practice, prove myself and let (the coaches) know I’m here and I’m ready whenever they need me.

“Everyone doesn’t get to come out and be the man from Day 1. Ninety percent of us pay our dues first.”

Coker returned kicks in college while playing with the Hampton University Pirates and University of Tennessee Volunteers.

He can’t hide his excitement over the prospect of making his CFL debut Sunday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“I’m definitely excited about the opportunity to play,” he said. “Whether it’s kickoff returns, kickoff coverage, whatever.

“I’ll get out there and play centre if I have to. Wherever the help is required, I will be excited to play that role.”

Talley would rather forget his last outing against the Tabbies. The 6-foot, 187-pounder dislocated his shoulder during the Stamps’ 32-20 win Aug. 6 at McMahon Stadium.

He said he was surprised the injury healed so fast.

“The shoulder’s great,” Talley said. “I finally feel like it’s back to 100%. I’m just out on the field trying to knock off some of the rust. It’s hard to get back into it, but you gotta keep pushing.

“I was actually shocked myself that it recovered so fast. I’m just happy to be back.”

Talley, who would need to be activated early from the nine-game injured reserve, is also no stranger to the return game.

He returned two kickoffs for 81 yards in last year’s West Final against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

And he piled up 150 yards on kickoff returns in Week 2 against the Lions when he replaced Ken-Yon Rambo on the roster.


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