Jorden no longer waiting in the wings

CALGARY — Kamar Jorden was finally a frontrunner for a starting job at Calgary Stampeders training camp this year. The receiver has made the most of his chance early this season.

With four touchdown catches and another scored on the ground, Jorden is tied with B.C. Lions receiver Jeremiah Johnson for a CFL-leading five TDs.

Jorden ranks third in receiving yards (380) behind Toronto’s S.J. Green (453) and Ottawa’s Greg Ellingson (435).

Unlike the trajectory of Stampeder teammate and fellow receiver DaVaris Daniels, who went from the practice roster to the CFL rookie award in 2016, Jorden took more time to come into his own after signing as a practice-roster player back in 2013.

“It was actually a little weird coming into camp this year because this was the first time it was really my position to lose,” the 28-year-old slotback said Tuesday following practice at McMahon Stadium.

“There was a lot more expected of me and I never had that here.

“Knowing that a team expects you to perform like that, that gives me more confidence, to know that I can step up for these guys and make plays like that. It was definitely a different feeling, but a feeling I enjoyed.”

Calgary (2-1-1) is at home to the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1-2) on Saturday.

Jorden had nine catches for 140 yards in Friday’s 30-23 loss to the Alouettes in Montreal.

One was a spectacular one-handed grab in the first quarter. Another was winning a jump ball on a 55-yard bomb from quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell in the fourth.

Jorden, a six-foot-three, 203-pound Bowling Green alum, has the speed to get down field fast as well as the power to separate himself from defenders.

“The one thing I’ve always liked about him is he’s a tall, big, fast, physical kid,” receivers coach Pete Costanza said. “We can use him in the run game to block.

“When he’s running down field, he’s a long strider so he gets up on people. He’s got strong hands. The couple of drops he’s had are just lack of concentration.”

Jorden’s moment of reckoning came early in 2016 when Bakari Grant, who returns to McMahon on Saturday as a Roughrider, overtook him on Calgary’s depth chart for several weeks.

“That time I had off I had to look in the mirror and just kind of get back to square one, get back to what I know, focus on myself and get better,” Jorden recalled.

“Making sure when I do get back out there, I had no reason for them to take me off again.”

When Grant was injured in September, Jorden reeled off nine catches for 126 yards and a touchdown against Winnipeg to reclaim his spot.

First-team reps the rest of the regular season, as well as in the division final and Grey Cup, gave Jorden a head start on 2017.

“It was definitely a big foundation for him,” Costanza said. “More importantly he took that and applied it to camp this year.

“It was his job to win or lose in camp. I thought he put in a lot of hard work and did a really nice job in the meeting room. He’s been playing fast and he and Bo have a nice chemistry going right now.”

More than anything, Jorden just wants to be a contributor to Calgary’s success.

“I do want people to look at me as one of the best receivers in the CFL,” Jorden said.

“It makes me feel good to finally get out here and hear my name on the loud speakers and have Bo throw to me. Everything about it feels really good, to finally make an impact.”

Also, the Stampeders have re-signed receiver Reggie Begelton, who was injured during training camp and released.

He had five catches for 88 yards and a touchdown in a pre-season game against the Lions.

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