The 2011 season marked a changing of the guard for the Stampeders. For several seasons Henry Burris and Joffrey Reynolds formed a formidable one-two offensive punch but, like they say, all good things come to an end. First, Joffrey Reynolds gave way to Jon Cornish as the club's starting running back. Then later in the season, with Henry Burris struggling, Stamps coach Jon Hufnagel decided it was time to hand the reins to Drew Tate. The team finished a solid 11-7 last season but that was only good enough for third in the West behind BC and Edmonton. It would be a quick playoff exit as the Stampeders were beaten soundly by the Eskimos in the Western Semi-Final.
After being demoted from the starting lineup, the writing was on the wall for both Reynolds and Burris.
Burris was the first go as the Stamps swung a deal with the Ticats on January 3 to send Burris to Hamilton in exchange for quarterback Kevin Glenn, offensive line Mark Dewit, and a conditional draft pick.
|Two of the team's All-time greats are no longer with the Stampders after Joffrey Reynolds was released and Henry Burris was traded to Hamilton.
By getting Glenn back for Burris the Stampeders ensured they would have a solid number two should Tate get hurt or simply fail to live up to expectations.
Reynolds was next to go as he was released later in January after the team was unable to find a trade for him. Reynolds leaves Calgary after eight seasons as the team's all-time leading rusher with 9,213 yards.
The Stampeders will also be without former All-Star receiver Ken-Yon Rambo this season. Rambo suffered an achilles injury and was subsequently released all but ending his career in the CFL. Canadian QB Brad Sinopoli was also among the team's final cuts after cracking the roster last season.
The only players lost via free agency were punter Burke Dales who signed with Edmonton, offensive lineman Tim O'Neill who landed in Hamilton and defensive back Brandon Isaac who signed with the Argos. Defensive Back Geoff Tisdale meanwhile was traded for Hamilton for a future draft pick and DeVone Claybrooks announced his retirement.
Coming to Calgary the Stampeders signed free agent receiver Chris Bauman after he was released by the Eskimos. The Stamps are hoping he can bounce back after a disappointing year and live up to the promise he showed a few seasons ago in Hamilton.
The Stamps also added the services of veteran linebacker Joe Lobendahn who had spent the first four years of his career with the Blue Bombers. Lobendahn is a solid veteran leader who could fit will with the Stampeders.
Former Eskimo Kenny Pettway also signed on with the Stamps. Pettway led the Eskimos in sacks two years ago but did not play last season.
Jon Hufnagel saw enough out of Drew Tate last year that he felt good enough to get rid of one of the franchise's all-time greats and make the young QB out of Iowa his number one guy.
Now Tate will have the chance to reward his coach's faith in his first year entering the season as a CFL starter. Tate had been effective in spot duty the past few years before taking over as the Stampeders' starting quarterback in Week 17.
He acquitted himself quite well as a starter guiding the team to three straight wins to close the season. His stats in those wins were okay but not great as he threw for 791 yards and four touchdowns but was also intercepted five times.
|Despite the addition of Kevin Glenn, the Stampeders are now Drew Tate's team to lead.
If Tate plays well this year Hufnagel is going to come off looking great, if he struggles there will be a lot of second guessing the decision to move fan-favourite Burris, especially if Burris plays well in Hamilton.
Jon Cornish also gets to enter the season as the go-to-guy for the first time in his career. Cornish took over from Joffrey Reynolds as Calgary's main rusher in Week 13 last year and never back. In seven games as the starter, Cornish averaged 87.3 rush yards per game and scored seven of his CFL best nine rushing touchdowns.
At receiver the Stampeders head into the season with the makings of one of the most deep and dangerous groups of non-imports in the CFL. The Canadian talent includes Arjei Franklin, Johnny Forzani, Anthony Parker, Jabari Arthur and Chris Bauman. And despite the loss of Rambo they also still have marquee American stars in Nik Lewis and Romby Bryant. Tate certainly won't lack for places to throw the ball.
Defensively the Stampeders biggest strength may be at linebacker where they boast All-Star Juwan Simpson as well as the versatile Malik Jackson. Now they also have Joe Lobendahn adding veteran depth off the bench as well.
Brandon Smith will once again anchor the Stamps secondary after being nominated as the team's Most Outstanding Defensive Player last season. Smith helped alleviate the losses of Dwight Anderson and Brandon Browner and is one of the best defensive backs in the league.
Last year, the Stamps struggled with the pass-rush but Corey Mace looks to be healthy again after being knocked out for the season in Week 1 last year. His presence along with Pettway's should help to right that ship.
On special teams Rene Parades looks to be secure in the placekicking role while Rob Maver will take over the punting duties.
||DL Ameet Pall
||DB Keenan MacDougall
||OL Billy Peach
||OL Bradley Erdos
||DB Adam Berger
||OL Mike Filer
||DL Jordan Spence
||LB Wilkerson Desouza
The Stampeders were hoping to find a nice mix of quantity and quality as they made eight selections at the CFL Draft.
The Stamps went off the beaten path to tiny Wofford College for their first selection where they took defensive lineman Ameet Pall. He suffered a foot injury and was released at the end of training camp but will remain in Calgary as he recuperates.
With their second choice, the Stamps selected athletic defensive back Keenan MacDougall who turned alot of head with impressive E-Camp numbers after missing all of 2011 with a knee injury. Despite the health concerns MacDougall could prove to have a big upside.
The Stamps also focused on the O-line trying to add depth by selecting three big men in the draft.