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CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders are faced with a pretty good situation as they continue their first week of training camp.
The team has an abundance of depth at linebacker and head coach Dave Dickenson says that because of the amount of talent, it’ll be hard to choose the starter for the open weak side linebacker spot as they head into the season.
“Probably the most depth we’ve ever had,” Dickenson told members of the media. “It’s tough to find them all reps. It’s tough, actually. We’re actually competing for a starting job at the WILL spot so we have to make sure everyone gets enough work to do that. We’ve got some good, young talent as well. Guys coming off injuries that look like they’re doing well so it’s going to be a tough decision come the end of training camp.”
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Along with third-year middle linebacker Alex Singleton, Jameer Thurman, Maleki Harris, Wynton McManis, Dwayne Norman, Keith Reineke and Tyler Stoddard are all with the Stampeders at training camp this week.
With limited reps at training camp because of the sheer volume of players at the position, Thurman knows that he, along with the rest of the linebacker group, have to make every time they hit the field count.
“You’ve got to make every opportunity you’re out there, you’ve got to make sure it counts,” Thurman told Stampeders.com. “You never know what could happen, when you’re going to get taken out or anything. You’ve just got to be ready and make the most of your opportunity.”
Thurman played in all 18 games last season with the Stampeders, seeing action on the weak side and collecting 52 defensive backs, 13 special teams tackles, one sack, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Harris, too, saw action at WILL to begin the season, suiting up in six games and amassing 21 defensive tackles, two special teams tackles, one sack, one interception and two touchdowns.
“I’ve got a little experience under my belt this year,” Thurman said. “I played a lot of games last year. (I was) able to get acclimated to the CFL game. This is the second season, it’s time to take it up a notch this year.”
“Last year at this time I was scrambling, studying all night and day,” the 23-year-old continued. “I’m still studying but it’s more of just getting my memory back of what we ran last year. I’m able to play faster because I know where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing.”
As he gets set to head into his third year in the CFL, 2017’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player Singleton is hoping to pass on some of his knowledge of the Canadian game to some of the new faces around Stamps’ camp.
After all, Singleton did collect a career-high 123 defensive tackles last season to go along with four sacks, one interception and a forced fumble.
“There’s 13 of us so getting enough reps in for everybody is tough,” Singleton told Stampeders.com. “Especially with the playbook expanding so much so the young guys aren’t getting all the reps they need but we’re looking at a lot of film, as always, so everyone’s getting it mentally so we just need to get on the field to get more reps.”
“Just helping them out with all of the little nuances and what I look at or what I do,” continued Singleton. “It takes it to a different level. The things that I was taught in my first two years. Where your eyes should be, where your feet start. Just all of the little nuances that you don’t necessarily get out of a playbook.”
– With files from Stampeders.com