Adam Konar brings game-saving tackles — and more — to Stampeders

‘Tired of losing,’ former Dinos star returns to Calgary to play defence, special teams

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Adam Konar got tired of losing.

So he came to the six-win Calgary Stampeders??

Raise your eyebrows if you must, but the move here meant immediate victory for the ninth-year CFL linebacker.

“My wife’s from here, and her family’s out here,” said Konar, who can also call the Stampede City home after growing into an all-Canadian defender with the University of Calgary Dinos. “So to get the chance to live at home with my wife during the season is a big plus. And having family around at the same time is a big plus, too.

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“All of that different stuff came into play to choose to come and sign here. To be able to come back and play here is definitely a special opportunity for me.”

So far, so good for the 30-year-old Vancouver native.

Yes … two wins in just three games heading into Saturday’s affair (5 p.m., TSN, QR Calgary) for the Stampeders (2-1) against the host Montreal Alouettes (4-0) isn’t much of a sample size where celebration is concerned.

But it’s a better trend than what he experienced with the Edmonton Elks the last two seasons, with whom a total of 28 losses was engulfed by a ton of negativity.

“Tired of losing, for sure,” agreed Konar. “Definitely want to make the playoffs and have a chance to win the Grey Cup, and the Stampeders are a great team to do that with.

“It’s a great organization — one with great history,” continued Konar. “It’s been one of the top organizations in the league since I came into the league (in 2015).”

He hopes to help put it back on top.

And he’s doing his best with a few key duties having been handed to him upon his arrival in the off-season.

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Konar leads the club in special-teams tackles. He has five, including three in last Saturday’s 22-19 takedown of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at McMahon Stadium.

Two proved vital in keeping the visitors from returning punts to the house, as Konar was able to get to Bombers runback-artist Chris Smith just as it looked like he was breaking free for likely touchdowns.

“Definitely one was a shoestring tackle, I’d say,” Konar said. “I saw him break through the opening and knew I had to close the ground as quick as I could. Because those returners are usually a little faster than me out there, I knew I had to take my shot right when I saw it.”

“Game-saving tackles,” declared Stamps GM/head coach Dave Dickenson. “Adam was our leader that game on special teams.

“I like what he’s doing on special teams,” continued Dickenson, calling Konar an “all-in team-type player.

“But I do think that he can play on defence. I felt like he would solidify our linebacker situation, if we did have any injuries.”

Dave Dickenson
Calgary Stampeders GM and head coach Dave Dickenson during the team’s walkthrough before the home opener Friday night at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Thursday, June 6, 2024. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Indeed, the 6-foot-2, 225-lb. Konar is more than just a special-teamer, having lined up almost exclusively at weak-side linebacker for the Elks the last two seasons.

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The trouble is that position — and the linebacking unit as a whole — is considered the Stampeders’ strength, with all-stars Cam Judge and Micah Awe at weak-side and in the middle respectively and Branden Dozier showing he belongs at the strong-side spot.

“Obviously, I knew I wasn’t going to come in and take Cam’s spot — or Micah’s,” Konar said. “They’re both great players.

“Honestly, I didn’t come in with too much expectations on what I was going to be doing,” continued Konar. “I knew I was going to be playing a decent role on this team no matter what it is, whether it was special teams or defence.

“I was coming in with the mindset that whatever the coaches need me to do, I’m going to do it and I’m going to do my best at it.”

For now, that’s shining on special teams, which he did do earlier in his CFL career with both the Edmonton Eskimos — from 2015-18 — and the BC Lions — from 2019-21.

“It’s definitely been a bit of a change-up,” said 2015 Grey Cup champion Konar, of making special teams his primary responsibility. “But the approach is still the exact same. Whether you’re preparing for defence or special teams, I’m going in with the same approach every week.

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“You always have to be prepared no matter what. Because with football, you never know what’s going to happen, right? There’s injuries that happen every single game and every week, so you’ve got to be prepared with what’s thrown at you.”

Like Smith and his near runs to paydirt.

Konar got the special-teams game-ball for his pivotal tackles of Smith, even after teammate René Paredes kicked four field goals — including the game-winner in OT.

“They definitely were big,” reflected Konar of the special-teams moments. “But that’s the position I’m in as an upback on the punt team. And you’re going to have to make those tackles sometimes when you’re on that second wave.

“You have to be ready for when the team’s going to need you. You have to put yourself in the position that when the team needs you to make a play, you’re ready to make that play. And I always feel like I’m ready to make those plays, whether it’s on defence or special teams.

“And that’s just what happened. Those plays came to me, and I was ready to make them.”

SHORT YARDAGE

DB Demario Houston (ankle), last Saturday’s co-hero for the Stampeders, missed a second-straight practice Wednesday … Also out was teammate DL Elliot Graham (hamstring) … Stamps DL Kwadwo Boahen (back) returned to the field but was limited in his participation.

[email protected]

X: @ToddSaelhofPM

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