CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders open training camp Sunday with experience at almost every position.
With a few exceptions, the starters from the team that lost in the Grey Cup final to the host Toronto Argonauts in 2012 remained in red and white for 2013.
“As far as our overall roster is concerned, I’m pleased with our depth,” head coach and general manager John Hufnagel said Tuesday.
Pre-camp buzz has been about starting quarterback Drew Tate’s durability and whether veteran backup Kevin Glenn will have to step into the breach again this year. Hufnagel has declared Tate his starter for this season.
Where training camp gets interesting for the coach is how a couple of Albertan behemoths battling for offensive line jobs might impact his ratio of import and non-import players.
Medicine Hat’s Dan Federkeil is attempting to revive a football career that includes four seasons with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and a Super Bowl ring in 2006.
Repeated concussions forced him into retirement in 2009 and the 29-year-old hasn’t played a game since then. Federkeil, six foot six and 290 pounds, has been cleared to play again. The Stampeders acquired his rights from the Toronto Argonauts, who drafted him back in 2006.
Spencer Wilson was born in Toronto, but went to high school in Calgary. The six-foot-seven, 325-pounder played junior football for the Calgary Colts, while Federkeil played university ball for the Calgary Dinos.
Wilson, 25, earned his first start for the Stampeders last August, but spent the last five games of the season on the injured list.
“This is a big training camp for Spencer Wilson, a big training camp for Dan Federkeil,” Hufnagel said. “First of all for Dan to get back on the field and to survive, but also for Spencer. He’s going to be given every opportunity to win that job and we’ll see how it turns out.
“When training camp is completed, what is our ratio on our football team? I don’t make those decisions. The players will make those decisions on the field, but I do know we have options.”
Rookie camp starts Thursday at McMahon Stadium.
The club announced Tuesday that import defensive lineman Marvin Booker and offensive linemate Leonardo Bates have been added to rookie camp.
Hufnagel also said “an agreement in principle” had been reached with offensive lineman Brett Jones of Weyburn, Sask., and he too is expected at rookie camp.
Jones was one of Calgary’s two second-round picks in this year’s college draft. He would be the fifth player from the 2013 draft class to get under contract with the club.
There are few openings on Calgary’s defence, but defensive end Stevie Baggs is another veteran looking for a second life in the CFL. The 31-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., terrorized CFL quarterbacks in 2009 when he was a Saskatchewan Roughrider.
Baggs played in just one game for Calgary last season because of a quadriceps injury, but Hufnagel invited the man with a big personality back.
“Lord knows how hard he’s worked in the off-season,” Hufnagel said, adding that Baggs will have Kevin Dixon and Cordarro Law for competition at defensive end.
The Stampeders acquired non-import defensive tackle Etienne Legare from Edmonton earlier this month. The Saint-Raymond, Que., athlete is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. Hufnagel didn’t know if Legare would be ready for the season opener June 28 versus the B.C. Lions.
The departure of Romby Bryant, the retirement of Arjei Franklin and the ankle injury and subsequent surgery that will keep Canadian Johnny Forzani out of the lineup for some time creates career advancement opportunity at receiver for someone like Vancouver’s Anthony Parker.
The former Calgary Dino and son of a former Stampeder of the same name had a promising rookie season in 2011, but was on and off the field in 2012 because of a concussion and other injuries.
“This is Anthony’s third year and he knows he needs to stay healthy and when he gets his opportunity, to stay on the field,” Hufnagel said.
“I’m not disappointed with Anthony when he’s been on the field. He’s a great contributor to the offence when he’s had opportunities to make plays for us, he’s done that. Special teams, he’s performed admirably on special teams, which our Canadian receivers have to do.”
Calgary hosts the Lions in an exhibition game June 14 before another pre-season game June 20 in Saskatchewan.