Old hat for Stampeders' new guy

Stamps DE Anwar Stewart has fit in nicely with his new teammates. His play in Saturday's victory in...

Stamps DE Anwar Stewart has fit in nicely with his new teammates. His play in Saturday's victory in Winnipeg certainly caught their attention. (Stuart Dryden/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

CALGARY - When the Calgary Stampeders arrived in Winnipeg, head coach John Hufnagel started laughing while referring to Anwar Stewart as a 'young man.'

In the post-game locker-room Saturday, the 36-year-old defensive end was told to hit the cold tub all night.

Stewart couldn't help but smile from the ribbing his new teammates delivered.

Although he had just one tackle on the stat sheet, the former Montreal Alouettes stalwart delivered a huge impact in the 32-21 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

For his efforts in pressuring the quarterbacks, the Stampeders defence handed him the game ball -- plus plenty of reminders that he's so 'old.'

"I will take my hits," Stewart said. "As long as we keep getting victories like this, they can call me old or whatever they want. I know they mean well and they like what they saw."

The only surprising thing about Stewart's outing in Winnipeg was that it was his first after spending the past few months waiting for an opportunity.

The Alouettes nudged him into retirement this off-season, but it's clear their franchise sack-leader still had something left in the tank.

"I don't know what he's been doing back home, but he knocked the rust off pretty good," Stamps defensive captain Juwan Simpson said. "He had a pretty good game.

"You need a good sense of veterans on your team to help going into the playoffs."

If there is a theme to this Stampeders season -- other than overcoming an amazing amount of injuries to key people -- it's that the team must believe it's close to making a playoff run.

Why else would they be constantly loading up with veteran CFL players?

Stewart was signed this week to help with the defensive line. He joins the likes of Jason Armstead, Obby Khan, Stevie Baggs, Kenny Pettway and Tad Kornegay as experienced CFLers who weren't on the opening training camp roster but joined the train mid-trip.

When Baggs couldn't get healthy enough to suit up right away, the Stamps didn't hesitate to call Stewart.

"It's a positive and the team reacts well to it," Simpson said. "You would rather bring in a known rather than an unknown.

"There's nothing like knowing the game. In any sport you play, the older the guy, the better he is, in a sense. The knowledge of this game means a lot. It's a little easier transition and it's easier to jel with other players."

The interesting part of the mix the Stamps have put together is that all these veterans have never had any connection to the Stamps before, although that's not the case with Stewart.

He began his CFL tenure with the Stamps in 2001, but Khan (Blue Bombers), Armstead (six teams), Kornegay (Saskatchewan Roughriders and B.C. Lions) and Baggs (Riders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats) spent the majority of their careers elsewhere.

It doesn't matter now that a playoff spot is booked.

"This is a great group of guys," Stewart said. "The locker-room is really chill. It's a great group of coaches. At the end of the day, we take care of our business.

"We come out to win games. I was brought here to put pressure on the quarterback, so hopefully I showed the coaches enough so I can stay in the lineup. We have something good over here. We want to see what we can do at the end of the season."

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby


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