Receiver Echols-Luper shines as Stamps beat Bombers to finish off pre-season

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When the Calgary Stampeders make their end-of-training camp cuts on Saturday, it’s hard to imagine a world where Cameron Echols-Luper isn’t offered a job.

For the second pre-season game in a row, Echols-Luper was spectacular. He exploded for eight catches for 160 yards as the Stampeders defeated the host Winnipeg Blue Bombers 31-10 on Friday night. He also led the Stamps in receiving yards a week ago against the B.C. Lions.

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If that doesn’t ensure he’s got a job this season with the Stamps, we’re not sure what would have done the trick.

Having Echols-Luper looking so confident and dynamic is huge for the Stampeders, especially after Malik Henry suffered a season-ending patella tendon injury earlier this week.

Henry was the surefire starter at wide receiver for the Stamps and it would be unreasonable to suggest that anyone is going to be able to just step in and do exactly what he can do.

But in Echols-Luper, the Stamps seem to have a receiver who can get open on the big Canadian field and make himself available for QBs. The 29-year-old Western Kentucky product repeatedly gave the Bombers DBs headaches and at this point, he can probably be pencilled in to the starting lineup next weekend when the regular season kicks off.

The Bombers, of course, were not fielding all of their veterans. Friday night’s game was being used for evaluation purposes for both teams, so there’s only so much that should be taken from the result. It’s going to get a lot harder next week when the Stamps open their season against Bo Levi Mitchell and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at home on Friday.

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But there were nevertheless some encouraging performances from the Stamps.

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Jake Maier throws against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during pre-season action in at Princess Auto Stadium in Winnipeg on Friday, May 31, 2024. Photo by John Woods /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Jake Maier started the game at quarterback and while he didn’t get a tonne of playing time, he looked confident and composed in the pocket. He completed four of the five passes the threw for 92 yards.

Matthew Shiltz, the Stamps’ presumed backup, was slightly less successful and completed 5-of-13 passes for 101 yards, while Logan Bonner completed 6-of-9 passes for 125 yards and Kyle Vantrease was 4-of-5 for 62 yards.

Only one of Bonner or Vantrease is likely to stick around, especially as head coach Dave Dickenson revealed this week that Tommy Stevens had already earned a spot on the team.

On the ground, the Stamps split their carries between LeVante Bellamy, Peyton Logan and Dedrick Mills to varying degrees of success, with Bellamy taking on most of the load and running the ball 13 times for 58 yards.

Defensively, the Stamps largely shut down a depleted Bombers offence that didn’t have Zach Collaros or Chris Streveler playing and was missing most of their big-name receivers.

Not to be repetitive, but this was absolutely a case of the Bombers getting a last look at their would-be rookies. Nobody should be expecting the powerhouse squad to be nearly as bad as they were on Friday night when the regular season gets going.

But the Stamps can only beat what was in front of them and they did a nice job executing on Friday night. Dickenson’s job won’t be easy when he has to make his cuts on Saturday.

And for a team that prioritized being able to hit the ground running in Week 1 when the regular season gets going, this was exactly the sort of performance fans should have been hoping for

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