Star Calgary running back Jon Cornish may get odd looks when he stands on one foot ordering lunch or spins through a doorway.
But he says he can’t stop working on ways to improve his game, after setting a new CFL record last season for a Canadian with 1,457 rushing yards.
“You just live like that and it becomes your norm. If people think it’s weird then, whatever,” he said Thursday on a CFL pre-season conference call.
This season he says he wants to work on his pass routes and other aspects of his game he thinks can improve, such as his emotional response.
He recalls one game in particular against the Toronto Argonauts.
“I had a penalty that possibly cost us a touchdown,” he said. “That kind of emotional outburst is something that I want to have restrained.”
He says that kind of growth comes with maturity.
“I feel like I’m a more mature player at this point and I can better deal with any negatives.”
Despite the breakout numbers, it wasn’t all highlight reels in 2012 for the 28-year-old, who was picked 13th overall in the second round of the 2006 CFL draft.
After lending a major hand in the 11-2 run that overcame a slow start and got them into the Grey Cup, Cornish and the Stamps were shut down by the Toronto Argonauts, who emerged 35-22 winners.
Coach John Hufnagel says he wants to once again see Cornish be a factor in each and every game.
But he adds that he particularly respects the way Cornish bounced back and tried even harder if he had an off game, like his minus-one-yard effort in Week 5 last season.
Hufnagel also says Drew Tate is definitely the team’s No. 1 quarterback going into camp.
He has recovered from a fractured wrist that put backup Kevin Glenn in for the West final and the Grey Cup, after Glenn subbed for Tate earlier in the season due to another injury.
“He’s ready to play, I’m ready to have him on the field playing,” Hufnagel said of Tate, although he also expressed a lot of confidence in Glenn and Bo Levi Mitchell as backups.
“Right now quarterback is in my belief a position of strength for us but Drew will be the starter coming into training camp.”
Tate has worked out with a mixed martial arts trainer to improve his core strength but the coach says his No. 1 pivot has no desire to climb in the Octagon, like Toronto Argonauts running back Chad Owens, last season’s MVP and all-purpose yards leader.
Owens surprised even the Argos when he entered the cage in Hawaii in April, earning a unanimous decision over another MMA newcomer.
Despite their apparent strength, the Stampeders have been bringing a lot of young players into camp this season, adding three more Thursday — import receiver Donavon Kemp, import defensive lineman Aronde Stanton and import defensive back Jerett Sanderson.
“You improve most of the time with your young players,” said Hufnagel.
As for holes he has to fill, linebacker Marc Calixte retired after last season after playing a major role on special teams.
“We’ll have enough fast guys to go down and disrupt things,” said Hufnagel, pointing to a few new additions such as the off-season signing of Yannick Carter as well as 2013 draft pick Ben D’Aguilar.
Two players expected to show up at camp still nursing injuries are receiver Johnny Forzani and defensive tackle Etienne Legare.
Hufnagel hopes Legare will be ready once the season starts but Forzani, who had to have surgery to repair a high-ankle sprain that didn’t heal properly, will take longer.