'Ideal start' to tweaked main camp has Stampeders excited about 2024

Two-a-days removed from schedule, as coach Dave Dickenson adjusts way Calgary’s CFL team prepares for campaign

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Footballs are in the air at McMahon Stadium.

Smoke, too …

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Although that dissipated enough ahead of Sunday’s start to the Calgary Stampeders main camp to bring on a beautiful beginning to practice days ahead of the 2024 Canadian Football League season.

At least, the signs of a brighter future had Stampeders GM/head coach Dave Dickenson all fired up on Sunday’s Day 1 of main camp.

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“Last night, it was pretty smoky,” Dickenson said. “So we had a lot of chatter this morning as to whether or not we’re gonna have to try something different. But the weather cooperated. It’s actually really nice out here — we had a southern wind that helped (blow away the smoke). It was the perfect temperature. The guys worked and were able to sweat it up, so it certainly felt like it was just an ideal start this early.

“One down, and it was a good practice.”

‘One’ being the key word there.

Because those dreaded two-a-day practices — a scene all too familiar for footballers at camps — are not in the plans for the Stampeders this pre-season.

“We’re just going to do what’s best for our players,” said Dickenson, who opened main camp with 99 hopefuls vying to make the roster. “We understand that athletes work really hard and work 12 months a year now.

“I think sometimes back in my day, it was almost like training camp was used to get in shape. Now, they are going 12 months a year, so you don’t have to go quite at the same maybe tempo or go even double-time, because guys are already prepped and ready.”

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It’s one of the many decisions Dickenson has made in trying to get his CFL team back to its winning ways.

“I think it’s the right move at this point,” continued Dickenson. “Health is important.”

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Injuries, especially early on in the calendar, have plagued the Stampeders the last few seasons, so the head coach has come in with a different practice plan for 2024 — plus tweaks to the strength and conditioning regimen, among other aspects of the day-to-day schedule.

“So basically they’re off their feet for the rest of the day,” Dickenson said. “And we’ll have them come back to their rooms quite a bit earlier than in the past. The negative is just not very many reps in practice. So it’s hard, especially with like five or six guys at one position — that makes it very, very difficult.

“But we made them aware that rookie camp had to be an audition and that the veterans should be prepared to get a little bit more reps because they weren’t here at rookie camp.

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“We’ve just got to make sure we give them enough reps — and that’s going to be the challenge. If that means we’ve got to play them more in pre-season, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

Dave Dickenson at Calgary Stampeders camp
Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson during the opening of main camp at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sunday, May 12, 2024. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Camp continues for the next few weeks, with the first live CFL action for the Stampeders slated for Saturday, May 25, in pre-season play against the visiting BC Lions at McMahon Stadium (2 p.m.).

“It’s one of those things to where kind of you’re feeling like it’s the first day back in the fire,” said Stamps quarterback Jake Maier. “You know … you’re running full-speed and there’s seven-on-seven reps and team reps. It does kind of have that feel of like jumping into the pool for the first time. There is that little shock element of like, ‘Oh man, it’s good to get going.’

“And eventually you get in a really nice rhythm. You have your moments on Day 1, but you also have your moments like, ‘Oh, maybe I’m just a little bit out of rhythm here,’ just because it’s been a while since you’ve been seeing that live action.

“I thought today was a great day. Obviously, there’s tons of dudes out here that are totally able to be a part of this team. And obviously, those decisions will be made. But from what I see, it looks good.”

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Jake Maier at Calgary Stampeders camp
Calgary Stampeders QB Jake Maier during the opening of main camp at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sunday, May 12, 2024. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Hopefully with the weather helping to make for more ideal days ahead.

“Weather matters — if it’s a little warmer, I think the guys’ muscles stay loose,” added Dickenson. “We’ll do our best. We do have a different approach on our strength and conditioning side and even in our treatment areas just to try to stay on top of injuries. But a lot of it is luck (around injuries). And hopefully, we’ve got good luck this year.”

SHORT YARDAGE

Rookie camp wrapped up Friday with a handful of move concluding the three-day freshmen session. DB Daniel Amoako and OL Kyle Saxelid — both Canadians — have been placed on the injured-veteran list. American WR Malachi Wideman has been placed on the suspended list. And American DL Terry Beckner Jr., American WR Dontario Drummond and German LB Lino Schröter — picked in the second round of the 2023 CFL Global Draft — have been released. That left the Stamps at the league-mandated maximum of 85 roster players … Two draftees attended NFL rookie mini-camps after signing on as free agents. They are DB Ben Labrosse — the Red and White’s fourth overall pick in the 2024 CFL Draft — with the New York Giants — and DL Julius Welschof — the club’s second-round pick of the 2024 CFL Global Draft — with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent. A third in TE Tanner McLachlan — the Stamps’ sixth-round pick 14 days ago — suits up for the Cincinnati Bengals mini-camp this week. The Lethbridge talent was plucked by the Bengals in the sixth round of the NFL Draft … Day 2 of main camp goes Monday at McMahon (9:25 a.m.).

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Training Camp Roster

Quarterbacks:

#1. Logan Bonner

#2. Kyle Vantrease

#5. Danny Skelton

#12. Jake Maier

#15. Tommy Stevens

#16. Matt Shiltz

#17. Chris Reynolds

Running backs

#20: Peyton Logan

#23. William Langlais

#26. Dedrick Mills

#34. LeVante Bellamy

#43. Paul-Antoine Ouellette

#44. Lucas Robertson

#46. Sebastian Howard

#47. B.J. Emmons

Receivers

#00. Josh Vann

#11. Malik Henry

#14. Clark Barnes

#22. Maxim Malenfant

#36. Jaquarii Roberson

#49. Erik Brooks

#78. Cameron Echols-Luper

#79. Ishmael Hyman

#80. Marken Michel

#81. Auden Tate

#82. Rysen John

#83. Tyson Middlemost

#84. Reggie Begelton

#85. Jalen Philpot

#86. Tre Odoms-Dukes

#88. Cole Tucker

#89. Isiah Epps

Offensive lineman

#51. Sean McEwen

#54. Joshua Coker

#56. Brandon Weldon

#60. D’Antne Demery

#61. Alexandre Marcoux

#62. Chris Toth

#63. Rodeem Brown

#64. Trevon Tate

#65. Christy Nkanu

#66. Bryce Bell

#67. Zack Williams

#68. Eric Smith

#69. Hunter Thedford

Special teams

#24. Cody Grace

#30. Rene Paredes

#52. Aaron Crawford

#70. Campbell Fair

Defensive lineman

#9. James Vaughters

#37. Elliot Graham

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#41. Mike Rose

#57. Sharif Finch

#58. Alex Tchangam

#71. Jason Janvier-Messier

#72. Clarence Hicks

#74. Josiah Coatney

#76. Cody Roscoe

#77. Kelon Thomas

#90. Will Choloh

#91. Darius Hodge

#92. Ryan Leder

#93. Charles Wiley

#94. Toby Ndukwe

#95. Julian Howsare

#96. Damontre Moore

#98. Kwadwo Boahen

#99. T.J. Rayam

Linebackers

#4. Cameron Judge

#7. Micah Awe

#38. Adam Konar

#42. Micah Teitz

#45. Darius Williams

#47. Cam Bright

#53. Shaheed Salmon

Defensive backs

#0. Kobe WIlliams

#00. Meiko Dotson

#3. Brenden Dozier

#6. Demerio Houston

#8. Nick Statz

#13. Jackson Sombach

#18. Kaylyn St-Cyr

#19. Malcolm Thompson

#21. Bailey Devine-Scott

#27. Larry Brooks

#28. Brad Muhammad

#29. Michael Griffin II

#31. Tre Roberson

#32. Titus Wall

#33. Rodney Randle Jr.

#35. Tyler Richardson

#36. Carlins Platel

#39. Clifford Chattman

#40. Bentlee Sanders

#43. Kenyon Reed

#44. Christian Joachim

#46. Josh Thomas

#48. Mazzi Wilkins

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X: @ToddSaelhofPM

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