Canadian Football League

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Calgary Stampeders have re-signed John Grace, keeping the all-star linebacker in-house rather than losing him to free agency.
"I've never had an opportunity to play the same defence two years in a row," said Grace. "Throughout my career I've always had a clean slate and had to come in and learn new a new defence and play well on the field." The 27-year-old was named defensive player of the week four times last year, his first season with Calgary after playing for Ottawa and Montreal. He was also the Western nominee for defensive player of the year, losing to Montreal's Anwar Stewart.
A decision by the new ownership of the Stampeders to retain the services of defensive co-ordinator Denny Creehan was the big reason for Grace remaining with the Stamps.
"Coach Creehan was a big influence on me coming back. It definitely would have changed my mind if he wasn't," said Grace. "I would have had to learn a new defence anyway so I would have said let's see what's out there."
Getting the linebacker back in the Stampeder stable was a big priority, said Creehan.
"That means the entire front seven now returns intact," Creehan said.
The Stamps also added two new assistant coaches: Bill Diedrick (quarterback and running backs) and Tim Burke (secondary coach).
Diedrick comes from Notre Dame, and will serve as a volunteer since the Irish, who have revamped their coaching staff, will continue to pay his salary.
"I think you always start with fundamentals. You're trying to make the guy that much more efficient in what he does well," said Diedrick, who was an assistant with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1991.
"With a quarterback position you've got to be a winner-number one - and you've got to be able to take your team to the dance and win the dance," he said.
Having quarterback coach with more than 30 years experience is a huge boost, said Khari Jones, whom the Stamps obtained from Winnipeg late last season.
"Things can happen with your throwing motion or your footwork," said Jones. "You look at anyone from a first year to a 15 year quarterback you always want to be working on those little things. I think they're going to make sure I stay on top of my game."
Burke was the defensive co-ordinator and defensive backs coach with Indiana State University last season.
Tom Higgins, the Stamps head coach and senior-vice-president of football operations, said the latest signings bode well for Calgary this season.
"We have what we need now. Players fall into place because they want to know who they're being coached by," Higgins said.
Calgary still has about a half-dozen free agents that are unsigned, including receivers Denis Montana and Wane McGarity and defensive back Omar Evans. Higgins said he isn't looking for wholesale changes but won't be shy when the free agent market opens up.


Post a Comment

<< Home