Stampeders' Randle a traffic fighter
By SCOTT MITCHELL, QMI Agency
|Stampeders defender Chris Randle during practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., July 16, 2012. (STUART DRYDEN/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - Chris Randle feels as if he’s been washed ashore.
Tasked with replacing coverage linebacker Demetrice Morley, the Calgary Stampeders rookie is used to being outside on an island, having played cornerback his entire career.
But the California native and former Utah State Aggies ballhawk has seen his life shift down the line and he’s now inside with the big boys.
“I mean, I was ready for whatever,” Randle said.
“My mindset was just to come in and make this team better. As far as being in there and doing the dirty work, I didn’t think I’d be in there that much but I can’t complain that I’m there.”
After hooking on with the Dallas Cowboys last summer for a training camp tryout, Randle decided to move his career north this spring, signing on with the Stamps in May.
He knew this was part of the gameplan and it’s not entirely new since the Cowboys had him playing in the nickel package, which put him closer to the line of scrimmage and in the traffic over the middle.
“It was a little bit of an adjustment, but I like everything that goes on,” said Randle, who tips the scales at 191 lb. while standing 5-foot-11.
“I like staying busy. I like being part of the run and guarding.”
Supporting the run is something cornerbacks can treat like a matador teasing a bull with his red muleta and desperately trying to avoid as much contact as possible.
In other words, it’s a big change.
The fact Morley’s injury threw him into the fire earlier than expected simply presented another challenge for the 24-year-old.
“It was a little overwhelming and the step from pre-season is a little bit faster,” Randle said.
“After playing in that first game, I adjusted to it and each week I’ve gotten more reps ... I think I’m more comfortable now than I ever have been.”
Randle got the start in last week’s loss to the Montreal Alouettes and with Morley still contemplating surgery on his injured shoulder, the rookie will be getting a lot of reps in the near future.
“It’s a challenge for me to step up and fill the roll of a starter and play up to that ability,” Randle said.
“I was ready for it throughout pre-season. I started a little bit, and I’ve been in and out with the (first team) since I’ve been here.”
Stamps linebacker Juwan Simpson sees a player not just capable of filling in, but possibly being a big contributor with a long CFL career.
“He’s been sharp ever since he got in Day 1,” Simpson said.
“He’s one of those kids where you watch rookie camp and you say, ‘He’s going to be good, regardless of what position he plays.’ ... I think he’ll have an extensive career up here or if he makes it south, I don’t know. He’ll be successful wherever he goes.”