Honours for Stamps secondary keep piling up

Brandon Smith during CFL football at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, Saturday October 1, 2011....

Brandon Smith during CFL football at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, Saturday October 1, 2011. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:51 PM ET

Brandon Smith was the team nominee for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award.

The Calgary Stampeders’ other halfback, Keon Raymond, was the guy that grabbed a spot on the division all-star squad.

Go figure.

“He was voted our defensive nominee, and I think, hands-down, he’s covered some of the top guys in this league,” Raymond said of his buddy in Calgary’s defensive secondary. “The stats might not say it, but if you hear any announcer when he’s playing a guy, he’s glovin’ him up all day. He leads our team in pass break-ups. He’s not going to have the interceptions — that’s because my hands are better than his — but he’s an aggressive defensive back.

“He’s definitely among the top defensive backs in this league.”

Apparently not among the top two halfbacks in the West Division, at least according to Thursday’s all-star announcements.

Raymond was the only member of the Stamps’ defence named to the division honour roll, joining running back Jon Cornish, slotback Nik Lewis, offensive guard Dimitri Tsoumpas and special-teamers Burke Dales and Larry Taylor on the list.

Among the omissions, the 27-year-old Smith was the biggest surprise.

“It’s not really that important to me. I’ve been out here four years, and I haven’t been an all-star yet,” Smith said. “I’m fine with the defensive award I got here. That’s fine with me.”

All-stars and team award nominees are selected by the Football Reporters of Canada, and it’s no secret that local scribes had a tough time choosing between Smith and Raymond as Calgary’s top defensive player.

Raymond finished tied for third in the league with five interceptions, including two that were returned for a touchdown.

The B.C. Lions’ Korey Banks, who was voted the West Division’s other all-star halfback, had one pick-off. The all-star cornerbacks and safety also swiped a pile of passes, with Edmonton’s Rod Williams (6 INTs), B.C.’s Dante Marsh (4) and Saskatchewan’s Craig Butler (5) also making the grade.

Smith, who had one interception this season while shadowing some of the top receivers, didn’t dispute the suggestion Raymond is more handy when it comes to picking off passes. Smith had a team-leading 65 tackles and one fumble recovery, although he also had a close-up view of highlight-reel grabs by Edmonton’s Fred Stamps and Montreal’s Jamel Richardson.

“He does. It’s not often the ball hits his hands and he doesn’t make the team pay for it,” Smith said. “Whereas, when it hits my hands, it’s always like, ‘Whoa, the ball is here.’

“I didn’t have the stats that it takes to make that team this year, but I went out there, and I played some sound defence. I made some plays, but it’s a stats league. Once you don’t put up stats, you don’t deserve to make the team. I think I did some things that could have given me a nod, but I left some plays out there that I should have made that probably could have got me an advantage and put me on the team.

“I’m looking at the bigger picture. As long as I can play sound defence and prevent my guy from scoring touchdowns and catching balls and help our team win games, then that’s what all I’m about. I’m glad, at least, we got one defensive back up on there. His award is a tribute to all of us.”

The Lions, who await the winner of Sunday’s West Division semifinal between the Stamps and Edmonton Eskimos, had a league-best dozen division all-stars.

The Stamps and Eskimos had six apiece, while three Saskatchewan Roughriders rounded out the best of the West.

The final tally was a bit more even in the East, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers boasting eight all-stars, the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts each had seven, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats had five.

The league all-star squad will be announced next week.


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