CALGARY – The trademark smile of Henry Burris was a little forced Monday.
The Calgary Stampeder quarterback, whose nickname is “Smiling Hank”, still felt residual sting from his team’s 27-24 loss to the Toronto Argonauts last week.
The Stamps (2-1) squandered an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, as well as a chance to start the season 3-0 for the first time in 10 years.
While the quarterback can’t take all the blame for the loss, Burris threw four interceptions for the first time in a decade, including two in the fourth quarter, and nearly had a fifth on a play that was called back. That was enough to dim Burris’s sunny disposition.
“I’m real upset,” the 35-year-old pivot admitted Monday at McMahon Stadium. “The guys know I’m pretty upset. I haven’t been running around talking as much. I’m not smiling as much.
“I’ve lost sleep since that game. I’m hard on myself, but I’m also going to come out and work hard for this team and do whatever I can to help make sure that we get to that level that we’re supposed to be playing at and executing at.”
Calgary hosts their first West Division opponent this season and the only unbeaten team in the CFL on Saturday when the Saskatchewan Roughriders (3-0) come to town.
Saskatchewan was a team Calgary could not beat last season, although one of their three regular-season meetings ended up a tie. The Stampeders host the B.C. Lions on July 31.
The Stamps look forward to finally having rhythm in their schedule. They had 11 days between their last exhibition game and season-opener. Then there were another nine days before suddenly playing two on the road in a five-day span.
Calgary is in the midst of a 10-day break before hosting Roughriders.
On their road trip, Calgary scrambled to edge Hamilton 23-22 at Ivor Wynn Stadium, but couldn’t win ugly again in Toronto last Wednesday.
Calgary’s receivers dropped passes and roughing penalties also hurt Calgary’s cause. Burris threw three touchdown passes and had 207 yards passing against the Argos.
That was overshadowed by his quadruple picks. The last time he did that in his career was 10 years ago when he quarterbacked Saskatchewan.
“That’s an occurrence that doesn’t happen very often,” head coach and general manager John Hufnagel observed. “He has a lot of pride in what he does. We have to take better care of the football and not only Henry, but the other players on offence and return guys. He’ll get over it. He’s a pro. He’s been through it before.”
Meanwhile, there’s the possibility of all-star receiver Ken-yon Rambo returning to the lineup. He’ll practise in full equipment this week.
The CFL leader in receiving yards in 2008 suffered a knee injury July 24, 2009 against the B.C. Lions. Rambo required two surgeries to repair ligament damage and underwent a lengthy rehabilitation.
“We’re going to practise him with pads on this week, see how it develops and make a decision at the end of the week,” Hufnagel said. “He has to go hard three practices in a row and tell me how he feels at that time.”
If Rambo recovers the explosiveness that made him so dangerous, his return will be a welcome addition to a struggling offence.
“When you have a guy who is a triple threat like that as a receiver, it makes defensive backs and defensive co-ordinators worry about him,” Burris explained. “They have to play more conservative.”
Rambo, 31, feels he’s close to playing again, but couldn’t quantify Monday how close.
“It’s a possibility, but it’s all up to the head man,” Rambo said. “I’ve never had an injury like this before.
“I don’t know what to expect when I get out there, but all I know (is I’m) getting stronger, I’m running my routes a little more crisper. My bursts are coming back a lot better.”
Also, wide receiver Jabari Arthur is back with the Stamps. Hufnagel plans to put the 27-year-old Montreal native on his practice roster. Arthur was a first-round draft pick (sixth overall) of the Stamps in 2007.
He was dealt to the Blue Bombers last September in a multi-player deal that brought Romby Bryant and Arjei Franklin to Calgary. The Bombers released Arthur last week.