April 6, 2023

Landry: Carey ready to climb the mountain in ’23


Ka’Deem Carey ain’t shy about it. The man has goals for the 2023 season and he can state them plainly.

And he does that just after I grant him that we all know what is at the top of his to-do list this year and that it is the same thing at the top of every player’s to-do list: win the Grey Cup.

“Honestly, I’m not going to lie to you,” says Carey, in Hamilton to do some promotional work with the CFL. “I want MVP this year. I wanna get that out there, out front, man.”

Carey has been the Stampeders’ team nominee for Most Outstanding Player the last two seasons, but each time, he was beaten out for the division nomination by the man he light-heartedly refers to as “the dude from Winnipeg,” Blue Bombers’ quarterback Zach Collaros. “He gets it and then he goes to the championship. So I’m shootin’ for MVP this year.”

At the age of 30, the dynamic, hard-running Carey is absolutely in the bullseye of his prime and he says he will come into this season even more healthy and energetic than he was in 2022, which was pretty energetic. He led the CFL in rushing with 1,088 yards last season, up from his rookie season total of 869 the year before.

“I feel better than last year for some reason,” says Carey. “I feel like I’m not aging. I’m excited to play.”

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In each of his two seasons with the Stamps, Carey has rushed the ball 164 times — yes, precisely the same number in each season — over 13 games in 2021 and then 14 last year. If he stays on the field a bit more, a rather large season could be in the offing. He sees milestone yardage as a possibility.

“I don’t think I’d be able to touch 200 (carries) but with maybe a couple more I can get over 1,500 yards,” he says. “You give me about 180, you’ll get 1,500 out of that.

“And that’s a lot,” he says, laughing, tossing out another number as a teaser. He thinks 15 touchdowns sounds about right.

In college ball, Carey was a workhorse of workhorses for the Arizona Wildcats, rushing 303 times in 13 games in 2012 and then 349 times in 12 games a year later.

With the Stampeders, injuries and missed games have limited his backfield touches a bit but so has strength at the position, where last year, Calgary boasted not one, not two but three devastating weapons at the running back position, with Peyton Logan and Dedrick Mills joining Carey as rushers who each, astoundingly, averaged more than six yards per carry.

“All of our running backs are going to explode,” predicts Carey, peering into the near future. “We’re going to have big explosives from all three of us. They’re gonna keep my legs fresh, and hopefully we can just hit ‘em with the three-headed monster and then have Jake (QB Jake Maier) throwin’ it over the top.”

Not that Carey would balk at more assignments, mind you.

A known threat with this ground game, expect to see Carey catching more passes from QB Jake Maier this season (The Canadian Press)

“I would love to touch the ball around 15, maybe 18 times (per game) this season. We have a great running back room but I would love for my carries to go up a little bit more, so I can really start punishing these defences and make them feel like they have no chance.

“I just love touching that ball and just getting my team hyped up,” he says.

If limited rushing attempts keep Carey away from the team single-season rushing record, set nearly fifty years ago by the great Willie Burden (1,896 yards on 332 rushes), he’s all right with that because, as he says, he thinks 1,500 is a distinct possibility.

Besides, he lets the cat out of the bag when he reveals that he will be used more this year than he has been as an aerial target. In 2022, Carey caught 26 balls for 194 yards. The season before, he pulled in 28 catches for 248 yards.

“Yes, I’ll be used as a receiver a lot more this year,” he says, broadly, of Calgary’s offensive blueprints for the 2023 season.

“It’s about touching the ball in other areas and producing. We’re really gonna try and find ‘em (opposing defences) in mismatches.”

On the whole, Carey is feeling like big things are coming for the Stampeders’ offence this year, heaping praise — as has become his insistent and vocal custom, rightfully so — on the offensive line.

“I honestly feel like we’re still getting better,” says Carey. “Our offensive line, they’re the best offensive line in the whole CFL. So I’m going to keep saying that. I said that all last year.”

If you ask him about himself, he’ll tell you he’s aiming for 1,500 yards and an invitation to both the awards show and the game during Grey Cup week, ahead of the dude from Winnipeg.

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