Stampeders' Baggs has something to prove

Stampeders defensive lineman Stevie Baggs during practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta.,...

Stampeders defensive lineman Stevie Baggs during practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., Sept. 10, 2012. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:18 AM ET

CALGARY - Stevie Baggs has many memories from McMahon Stadium over the years.

Some are better than others.

“I have some pretty good ones,” said Baggs, who officially joined the Calgary Stampeders Monday.

“There’s the rivalry with Saskatchewan here. And we played the Grey Cup in ’09. That memory wasn’t too great, for obvious reasons with the 13th man.

“But this has always been a great place to play.”

Baggs, one of the league’s top defensive linemen over the past few seasons, said he was happy to be back in Canada after being released by the Baltimore Ravens.

“More than half of my career has been up here,” the 30-year-old said. “I’m the only pro football player to play on 11 different teams.

“I think the resiliency speaks volumes. I’m just glad coach (John) Hufnagel and the staff here understand what kind of person I am.

“Off the field, I take pride in being an ambassador for the league and my team.”

Baggs began his CFL career in 2006 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before joining the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

After recording a career-high dozen sacks with the Riders in ’09, Baggs was handed a big contract by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

But things never went according to plan in Steeltown.

Last season, he was fifth on the team with 50 tackles and third with just five sacks.

The 6-foot-2, 236-pounder said his lack of production was a result of his playing a team-oriented game.

“I was hoping people were watching film and understanding that it wasn’t that my ability declined,” he said. “I stayed out of the media and was happy to be that team guy. It was the system. I guess people who understand football, know that.

“It was refreshing that coach Hufnagel and his staff understood that part of it.”

Baggs said he believes he can still be an impact player in the right system with the Stamps.

“I felt like I was doing what I needed to do for the team to be successful,” he said of his time in Hamilton. “I could have ran upfield and made sacks and disregarded what the scheme said, but I wanted to play within the scheme. I’ll be the first to say I’m not flawless, but I’m faithful.”

“When it comes to playing football, I love this game and I have a passion for this game and I know I can still get it done.

“Last year was a little disappointing numbers-wise, but I was one win away from the Grey Cup.”

Baggs said he is friends with Stamps defensive line coach DeVone Claybrooks and he also played for defensive coordinator Rick Campbell during his time in Edmonton.

“This league is so small, you know everybody,” he said. “If you haven’t played with them, you’ve played against them.

“And with me being so well-travelled, I’ve played with more than a few of these guys.”

With as many stops as he’s experienced during his career, picking up a new playbook is not a big deal.

“With the CFL, it’s just terminology,” he said. “Once you get the terminology down, you can pretty much just fly around. I’m excited to get back out here.

“I really miss the fans. They’re emotionally attached to me because I’m always playing to the crowd.

“It’s great to be back here.

I definitely feel at home in the CFL.”

Hufnagel said it may be awhile before Baggs is up to full speed.

“He has a bit of an injury, so it’s going to take some time to heal up,” Hufnagel said.

“When he does heal up, we’ll see where he may fit into the lineup. We’re still trying to find out the extent of the injury.

“That’s why he’s out here doing what he can do.

“He looked good in the individual drills. Once it was one-on-one and a physical battle, that’s when he had to give up.

“Hopefully it’s not too long. Sometimes this type of injury is hard to predict.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Stamps also added defensive linemen Michael Stover and Donavan Robinson.

Stover was with the Red & White in training camp and Hufnagel liked what he saw.

“He had a good camp for us,” Hufnagel said.“He was one of the last cuts and it was a difficult decision.

“With Dorian Smith going down in pre-game last week, we just wanted to add depth at the position.”

scott.fisher@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNScottFisher


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