Stampeders name final roster
By Ian Busby, QMI Agency
|Brandon Rideau of the Toronto Argonauts makes the touchdown catch in front of Geoff Tisdale of the Calgary Stampeders during CFL football action at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, Friday July 1, 2011. (QMI Agency/AL CHAREST)
CALGARY - John Hufnagel cut a high-end receiver, traded a proven cornerback and said good-bye to the only remaining Canadian quarterback left in the CFL.
Still, after a tough day of roster decisions and player juggling, the Calgary Stampeders GM-head coach is happy about the team that will line up to play the Montreal Alouettes in next Sunday’s season-opener at McMahon Stadium (5 p.m.).
“We’re a young team, but I think we have experienced players,” Hufnagel said. “It’s not like we’re a bunch of first-year rookies. It’s not like we had a couple or three years ago.
“We’re a young team but experienced enough that we shouldn’t be star-struck when the lights come on.”
The Stamps released 14 players Saturday afternoon and traded cornerback Geoff Tisdale to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, paring down the roster to the 55. They will make up the active 46 and seven-man practice roster plus an injured list.
The biggest name cut was receiver Ken-Yon Rambo, whose battle with Achilles tendinitis never allowed him to be full speed during this training camp.
There were a few other veterans getting the axe.
Defensive back Johnnie Dixon was released, and Tisdale was traded to the Ticats along with a 2014 sixth-round draft pick in exchange for a 2014 third-round pick.
That means newcomer Fred Bennett out of South Carolina will likely be the starting wide-side cornerback when the season opens, but he will have to win the job away this week from fellow rookie Jamar Wall out of Texas Tech.
Hufnagel also parted ways with quarterback Brad Sinopoli, who made news last year when the Stamps drafted him and used him as their No. 3 pivot on the depth chart all season.
The Ottawa Gee-Gees product was the last remaining Canadian QB on a CFL roster, but Hufnagel simply couldn’t find space for him.
Hufnagel said before camp started that if he could keep four pivots that he would, but injuries at other positions forced his hand.
Bo Levi Mitchell, a rookie out of Eastern Washington University, will be the No. 3 man behind Drew Tate and Kevin Glenn. He will hold on field-goals and run the short-yardage unit.
Hufnagel wanted to see better accuracy from Sinopoli, and admits the sophomore was improving, but it wasn’t enough to win the spot.
“Bo is a more accurate passer,” Hufnagel said. “It was demonstrated (Friday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders) and the first game he played (a week earlier in a pre-season win over the Edmonton Eskimos).”
Another name that stands out on the list of cuts is first-round draft pick Ameet Pall. The defensive lineman from Montreal hurt his foot in Friday’s pre-season win over the Riders.
Pall, as well as fellow 2012 draft-pick Wilkerson DeSouza, a sixth-round linebacker out of the University of Toronto, will stick around Calgary and rehab before a decision is made on their futures.
“I have no control over what they do now,” Hufnagel added. “I need to rehab those guys and get them healthy.”
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