Lewis outstanding for Stamps

Stampeders wide receiver Nik Lewis runs with the ball during practice at McMahon Stadium in...

Stampeders wide receiver Nik Lewis runs with the ball during practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., October 5, 2011. (LYLE ASPINALL/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:23 PM ET

CALGARY - Being that Joffrey Reynolds often blocked Nik Lewis’ path to glory, he can poke fun at his pal a little bit.

It’s been a long time in coming for the bruising slotback to be the most outstanding player on the Calgary Stampeders.

Turns out 2011 was the year.

“I made a joke with him this morning,” Reynolds said Wednesday after practice. “I said, ‘It only took you eight years to get it. Big deal.’

“I’m happy for him. Everybody is happy for him. He’s been a consistent player for us over the years. He’s been great.”

If not for Reynolds (twice) and Henry Burris (four times), Lewis might have been up for the CFL’s West Division honour much earlier in his career.

It’s certainly not Lewis’ fault that he’s been on the same team with Burris and Reynolds, who have combined to take the last three West MOP awards.

But with both of those players losing their starting jobs this season, and with Lewis as the most consistent part of the Stampeders offence, the 29-year-old is the clear choice.

He’s in the running against receiver Weston Dressler (Saskatchewan Roughriders), and quarterbacks Travis Lulay (B.C. Lions) and Ricky Ray (Edmonton Eskimos). All but Ray are first-time nominees, and it will be a close call for the division winner.

Lewis is just honoured to be recognized in what is his eighth 1,000-yard receiving season.

“The goal coming into this season is the Grey Cup,” said Lewis, who was part of the 2004 Stamps that had linebacker John Grace nominated as MOP.

“I wanted to get over 1,000 yards and help this team to the Grey Cup. I’m halfway to my goal. This is a bonus and a great honour. If it happens, it’s great, but if it doesn’t, then life goes on.”

Lewis isn’t the only first-time Stampeders nominee this season. In fact, the only one to repeat in any category for a second time is running back Jon Cornish, who picked up his second straight most outstanding Canadian nod.

Safety Demetrice Morley is up for top rookie, while right tackle Stanley Bryant picked up the top lineman honours.

Larry Taylor, who won the 2009 CFL most outstanding special teams player award while with the Montreal Alouettes, won the nomination in that category.

Defensive back Brandon Smith is the nominee for defensive player, and it was a close race between he and fellow halfback Keon Raymond.

What makes Smith so valuable is his consistency and the fact he often matches up against the opposition’s top receiver. When Smith missed the 2009 season with a knee injury, the Stamps struggled to find a replacement.

Unfortunately for Smith, he will be featured in two catches that will make the top-10 list for reception of the year. Both of them were one-handed snags (the Esks’ Fred Stamps in Week 4 and Montreal Alouettes’ Jamel Richardson in Week 18) during which Smith had perfect coverage.

“It’s not like he made a wide-open catch and runs for a touchdown,” Smith said. “If I have to force a guy to make amazing catches, I’m doing something right.”

In the next round of voting, members of the Football Reporters of Canada pick the division winners and the final awards are handed out Nov. 24 in Vancouver during Grey Cup week.

Lewis would rather be there playing instead of just attending the awards show. He might be a long-shot to win, seeing as how he’s third in CFL receiving yards, but his value to the team isn’t just measured in numbers.

“He’s been underappreciated,” Reynolds said. “If you look at his game, he will never lead the league in yardage — that’s not his game.

“He’s a solid, productive player, but we ask him to do so many things. He does other things that count to us.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby


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