As a 30-something veteran, DeVone Claybrooks has shaken hands with some greats.
The softest he’s found were in Montreal.
Now there is good chance that Ben Cahoon will celebrate a CFL record against Claybrooks and the Calgary Stampeders defence Friday.
Cahoon needs just seven receptions to take the all-time record from former Stampeder Terry Vaughn.
Even if he doesn’t do it Friday at McMahon Stadium, the chances of the 38-year-old going two games with fewer than seven receptions seems rare and the two teams meet again on Thanksgiving back in Montreal.
“For the longevity of any career, you applaud it,” Claybrooks said about Cahoon, who hit the 1,000-reception plateau last week.
“We’re professionals in a sport where three years is the average career. You have guys playing 12 or 13 years at a high level. You still have to look at that as a 30ish guy myself and admire.”
Cahoon has made a living of grabbing everything thrown his way, and Claybrooks was immediately impressed when the defensive tackle arrived in Montreal for the 2007 season after many years in the NFL.
“Those are the best hands I’ve seen no question,” said Claybrooks, who had stints with San Francisco, Dallas and Tampa Bay Buccaneers among others. “It’s an automatic. I’ve seen him do crazy things in games and in practice.
“I’ve been on teams with some great receivers, such as (Terrell Owens) and Keyshawn (Johnson). He still has the best hands.
“It’s funny because you see this small mormon guy who looks slow as molasses. But he catches anything on his radar. He will take a hit. He’s tough as nails. Those are the intangibles you can’t put a finger on.”
The Alouettes are coming to Calgary without arguably their best big-play receiver over the past few years in Kerry Watkins, who suffered a shoulder injury last week in a win over the Blue Bombers.
Watkins is the Alouettes’ best deep threat and he’s in jeopardy of breaking a streak of five straight 1,000-yard seasons.
In last year’s season opener in Calgary, it was Watkins’ one-handed grab on the first drive that sparked his team to a great start. Most likely S.J. Green will replace Watkins.
“They won’t change,” said middle linebacker Juwan Simpson. “They have another player coming in whose a deep threat who can catch and run. This team we’re facing has a lot of weapons.”
They of course have Cahoon inside, and although he’s on pace for his worst season since his rookie campaign, he’s part of a group that can score plenty of points.
“It’s a jigsaw puzzle,” Claybrooks said. “They have all these master pieces they will plug in that they haven’t used. I know Brian Bratton on a personal level and he’s no slouch. S.J. has stepped up when he has gotten the chance.
“Those guys will complement Ben and Jamel Richardson. We will try to get after it.”