Short shift for Burris

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:56 AM ET

CALGARY - Short yardage.

Little consolation.

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris, whose streak of 69 consecutive starts will end when Drew Tate takes Friday’s first snap against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, is now the short-yardage specialist for the Red & White.

To avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the Stamps’ new starting signal-caller, Burris will hit the turf in oh-so-close situations and try to move the yard-sticks, something his predecessor has excelled at so far in his CFL tenure.

“No matter how much I might hate it or like it, I’ve gotta do it,” Burris said after Wednesday’s workout at McMahon Stadium, when he was among the last players to leave the field.

“As a 36-year-old man, to be relegated to short-yardage is not one of the things you look forward to. But I guess since I’ve got the moxie, I’ll go out there and get it done.”

Before losing his starting gig, Burris was on the brink of moving into sixth spot on the CFL’s all-time passing charts. He won’t gain much ground on Hall-of-Famer Doug Flutie in short-yardage situations, but Burris can still have an impact on the outcome of games.

Tate, who missed the first five games on this season’s schedule with a separated shoulder, is 28-of-32 with his feet on short-yardage attempts this season, including a flawless 16-for-16 on third down. The 27-year-old has also scored four touchdowns on goal-line rushing attempts.

The short-yardage package isn’t exactly familiar territory for the most recent recipient of the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player award, but Burris promised he’ll be prepared for any scenario.

“I’ve always been involved. I’ve been in this game too long, so I know what’s going on out there,” Burris said. “I’ll be ready, whatever the case is, to step out there and do my job and get it done for this team. I’ll make sure I’m ready to go.

“I’m just going to be ready for whatever the situation is. With short yardage, I’m in there, so I’m just doing what I can to get the job done.”

Like Burris, the easy-going Tate is also insistent that this week is business as usual.

The 27-year-old former University of Iowa Hawkeyes standout will be making his first professional start, but he showed plenty of poise after replacing Burris just before halftime in last week’s last-second 31-29 loss to the Toronto Argonauts. Ironically, he was stuffed twice on short-yardage sneaks against the Argos.

“It’s no different than any other week, just knowing that I get to play more,” Tate said with a shrug. “Every week, I have prepped. Every week, I have visualized myself going into the game and winning it. That’s just how it has always been. That’s how I’ve always pictured it. I’ve always been in tune, right from the opening kickoff. I feel like you have to be. Now, I get the ball, but I think everybody makes a bigger deal about all this than what it is.

“I just play. When I get out there, all I care about is playing and playing hard. All the other stuff takes care of itself. All these questions that everyone asks, all these scenarios, all these angles … you just make it very simple. Just make it about how your prepare and execute.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson


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