The Calgary Stampeders defence is feeling the pressure of an 0-2 start, although linebacker Tray Blackmon has grown accustomed to dealing with stress, on and off the field.

The Stamps rookie has a family of four kids back home in LaGrange, Ga., who expect dad to not only help reverse the team’s early season fortunes but continue sending home paycheques.

“It kind of works hand in hand,” explains Blackmon, just 23. “If you handle business out there on the field, you’ll handle business at home. Most people don’t have as big a family as I’ve got, but my only thought is if I play well and take care of business on the field, things at home will take care of themselves.”

Blackmon’s family is following the Stampeders’ progress online and in the local newspaper. Blackmon starred for LaGrande High School before playing three seasons at nearby Auburn University in Alabama.

Stampeders defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones discovered Blackmon thanks to a friend who coached the sturdy linebacker in college. Blackmon was thrust into the starting role at middle linebacker during Stamps training camp after veteran JoJuan Armour was released for disciplinary reasons and backup Lemarcus Rowell suffered a knee injury.

The Stampeders defence has struggled through the opening two games, allowing the most rushing yards this season (319) and the most points per game (41.0 average), although turn-overs have compounded the problems. The Stamps’ next test arrives tonight when they host the Toronto Argos, 7 p.m., McMahon Stadium.

“Losing is never good and the fans want to see us play big on defence, so we just can’t let that get us down,” Blackmon says. “We need to go out and play great this week against the run and get the win.”