CALGARY — Stampeder running back Nik Lewis expects an earful between plays Saturday at McMahon Stadium.
Lewis will probably have to break a tackle or two by former teammate Dwight Anderson, a CFL all-star now playing halfback for the Montreal Alouettes after three seasons in Calgary.
Anderson has built a reputation as one of the CFL’s champion trash-talkers. Lewis doesn’t expect Anderson to be tongue-tied now that he wears an Als’ jersey.
“I guess other people are affected by it because they don’t really know him, but I know Dwight and he talks all the time,” Lewis said Friday at McMahon.
“You score a 100-yard touchdown and he’s still going to talk. The ball can get thrown into the stands and he’s going to talk. He’s going to talk no matter what happens, so you really don’t pay too much attention to him.”
Anderson was a standout cornerback for Calgary last season.
He caught five interceptions and scored two touchdowns en route to an all-star designation. The colourful, verbose Anderson signed with Montreal as a free agent during the off-season.
Lewis is no shrinking violet in the verbal jousting department either so the mouths of the two players may be moving as fast as their legs Saturday.
“The trash-talking isn’t going to stop, especially with Nik on the field,” Anderson said at a downtown Calgary hotel.
“He’ll rub it in my face and you know how that goes from there.
“There will be a lot of funny things going on out there, a lot of jokes, especially with Nik. I’ll probably let him win the battle of the mouth, so he can have that.”
Anderson’s return is a tantalizing tidbit in a game of two football clubs with identical 5-2 records. Calgary tops the West Division, while Montreal is chasing Winnipeg for the East-Division lead.
Both the Stamps and Als are rested coming off their bye weeks. Calgary has won three games in a row and Montreal two straight.
Montreal and Calgary rank first and third respectively in points scored this season and their defences are second and third behind Winnipeg’s.
Calgary beat Montreal at home to win the 2008 Grey Cup, but the Als have won the last two CFL championships.
Players on both clubs danced around the notion that the quality of their opponent makes today’s game an important litmus test of their own team’s capabilities. Lewis, for one, wasn’t going to put Montreal on a pedestal.
“It’s going to be a fun game, but I don’t understand why people always go out and make Montreal the measuring stick,” he stated.
“Right now, they’re not the best team in the league and I don’t think you can say they’re the best team in the league. If they’re seven and oh, of course I’d say that, but they’re not.”
Calgary quarterback Henry Burris allows a win over Montreal at home would give his team an emotional lift heading into an important home-and-home versus Edmonton starting Labour Day.
“There’s a whole lot of things taking place in this game as far as giving us momentum,” Burris said.
The Esks (5-3) and Stamps are tied at 10 points apiece, but Edmonton is off this week.
Quarterback Anthony Calvillo says his team started playing like a Grey Cup contender again in wins over Toronto and Edmonton. He wants more of the same Saturday versus Calgary.
“We’ve been very smart as a team, not taking stupid penalties and making the least amount of mistakes,” Calvillo said. “If you go back two weeks prior to that, we were stinking out the joint.
“We were making dumb mistakes, offence, defence and special teams. With this league being so balanced across the board, you just cannot afford that. What I’m excited about is to make sure we play at the same standard we’ve been doing that past two weeks.”
The Dwight Anderson angle aside, the matchup of Calvillo and Burris is always intriguing as they’ve been among the CFL’s top quarterbacks statistically in recent years.
Calvillo may be 39 and minus his thyroid which was removed in the off-season because of a cancerous lesion, but his arm accuracy hasn’t diminished. At 2,095 passing yards, Calvillo can easily move past B.C.’s Travis Lulay — the Lions are in their bye week — for the league lead Saturday.
“In ’08, he always said he wished he had the arm strength I did and I’m like ’Dang, his arm looks even stronger now,”’ Burris said.
Burris, 36, advances the ball and gains key first downs with his legs, which are qualities Calvillo wishes he had.
“The dimension he brings that I don’t have is what he does with his feet,” Calvillo said. “I don’t win many games with my legs.”