Stamps cautious in practice, wear number-blocking pinnies
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
|The Calgary Stampeders practice at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on Nov. 22, 2012. (MIKE PEAKE, QMI Agency)
TORONTO - It's all fun and games until someone uses a spy.
Not that the Calgary Stampeders are accusing anybody of anything.
But by the looks of the Stampeders practice Thursday at the Rogers Centre, the West Division champions were expecting somebody from the enemy to be watching.
When the starting offence was on the field (at least that's what looked like the starting offence), the skill position players were wearing black pinnies over their jerseys, shielding their numbers.
Anyone filming practice for unauthorized location would have a hard time identifying which was Romby Bryant or Maurice Price or Marquay McDaniel.
Four years ago at the Grey Cup in Montreal, the Stamps employed a similar tactic, just in case there were any stealth operations at Olympic Stadium.
Rogers Centre has even more hiding spots, seeing as how there is a hotel and restaurant that overlooks the field.
"Maybe my head is bugging me because I don't remember that," offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson said about the win over Montreal four years ago.
"Some guys had them on and some didn't. I'm not sure which ones did. Anyone involved in scout team, they were supposed to have a jersey."
Hmm, that's interesting. Nik Lewis was wearing a pinnie with a number that was nowhere near No. 82.
"I never took any scout-team reps today," Lewis said. "They wanted me to throw it on. You never know where Jonesy could be sitting.
"I just do what they tell me to do. They asked me to put it on, so I put it on. I don't fight authority."
Oh yes, Jonesy.
Lewis is of course referring to former Stampeders defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones, who had a bad breakup with the team when he bolted for the Argos this off-season.
He's a disciple of the legendary Don Matthews, who was known to spy and steal signals.
Not that anybody is accusing Jones of underhanded things. Better to be safe than sorry though.
On Wednesday, the CFL allowed both teams to have closed practices away at Varsity Stadium, away from Rogers Centre and anyone who might be setting up in the rafters.
On Thursday there was no hiding, as the practices were moved indoors, and it looked exactly like a normal Stampeders practice, except for the offence.
We assume it was the starting offence on the field wearing pinnies. That was when the artificial crowd noise was pumped in turned up to 11.
"We just wanted to make sure the guys know where they are supposed to be and the other guys don't know where they are supposed to be," said defender Keon Raymond, with the other guys being the Argos.
"I thought it was iffy (in 2008), but when you are playing the home team in their home city, you don't know what type of nooks and crannies are around here. We want to keep the advantages to a minimum."
Guess it worked four years ago. Why not try it again?
"It doesn't matter what number I'm wearing today," suggested Stamps receiver Jabari Arthur, who is a member of both teams. "That's probably just what we do when we come to the Grey Cup. If it worked back then, maybe it will work again this time."
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