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STAMPS NOTES: Sindani steps into the boundary-slotback spotlight

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VANCOUVER — Opportunity is knocking for Richard Sindani.

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With linebacker Cam Judge’s suspension forcing the Calgary Stampeders to play three Canadian receivers against the B.C. Lions on Saturday night (8 p.m., TSN/770 CHQR), Sindani has been shifted into the boundary-slotback position that tends to see a lot of action in the Stamps’ system.

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If the Stamps are going to pull off a win against the Lions and avoid a three-game season sweep, Sindani’s likely going to have a big role.

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So yeah, opportunity is knocking.

“I’m super excited,” said Sindani. “It’s a big opportunity. I’ve been wanting this one. I feel like BC Place, I play well here. The team plays well here.”

Sindani has had a bit of a strange season.

He started off with a bang, registering 100 receiving yards in a game for the first time in his four-season career in Week 1 against the Montreal Alouettes.

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Hamstring injuries have slowed him down and kept him out of the lineup, though, so he hasn’t quite been able to replicate that early season breakout.

On Saturday night, though, he’s got an opportunity to step up in a major way in a position that is extremely important to the Stampeders’ offence.

“Getting injured is definitely tough,” Sindani said. “You’ve got to find your way back into the lineup and one thing about getting injured is the team keeps moving. They don’t wait for you, so you’ve gotta catch up. I feel like (Saturday) is that game for me to kind of get my feet back underneath me and see what I can do.”

With Sindani in the boundary slot role, the Stamps will also be starting Luther Hakunavanhu and Jalen Philpot in their receiving corps.

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All three guys have had flashes of brilliance this season but will need to get going and make an impact at the same time.

It will likely be Sindani who sees more of the ball. His quarterback, Jake Maier, is expecting Sindani to thrive.

“Big body, really smart, understands the game plan,” Maier said. “He’s like a quarterback, honestly, he’s one of those guys who is super locked in, he answers most of the questions in our meetings.

“The biggest strength I think Richie has is his overall knowledge of the game and his understanding of the offence and how it’s supposed to be. He understands the why for everything we do. That’s a big trust factor, and he’s super gifted and physically talented. We shouldn’t miss a beat there.”

The responsibility of catching the ball won’t fall solely on Sindani or the other Canadians’ shoulders, of course, and the Stamps did receive a nice boost this week when fellow receiver Malik Henry  bounced back from an illness quickly enough that he could be included in the game plan.

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The Stampeders had four sacks in last weekend’s 31-29 overtime loss to the B.C. Lions, so it’s not as if there can be a tonne of complaints about their pass-rush.

But Lions QB Vernon Adams Jr. did manage to escape pressure more often than the Stamps would have liked, and his ability to get out of the pocket and launch rockets to his receivers downfield did create headaches for the Stamps.

So how does the Calgary d-line do better on Saturday?

It starts with stopping the run.

“I think you still just win the line of scrimmage,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “If you can stop the run a little bit better, he’s so good at zone-read concepts and run-pass options. You’re not going to be able to perfect but if you can put him into second-and-long, you’re going to make your job a lot easier.”

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The Stamps allowed 124 rushing yards last weekend, 30 more than their season average. The message seems to have gotten through to the d-linemen that limiting the damage the Lions do on the ground is a top priority.

“We didn’t win, so we obviously didn’t play well enough,” said Stamps d-end Folarin Orimolade. “We have to do a better job against the run this week and then do a better job pass-rushing and forcing big plays. You stop the run, you get them behind the sticks hopefully. Just force them to get off the field.”


The Stampeders continue to shuffle their defensive backfield.

A never-ending injury crisis has made life difficult for the Stamps DBs, and while the changes between last weekend’s game and the lineup for this week aren’t quite as striking as they may have been at certain points this season, there were still significant moves.

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Javien Elliott will start his first game at the boundary half-back spot, while Jonathan Moxey is crossing the field and playing at the boundary corner instead of his normal field corner job. Trumaine Washington is taking over there, after mostly playing at half-back this year.

“Javien’s first game all year. Trumaine is playing at corner, Dozier will play some, too,” Dickenson said. “Really, it’s three different people in different spots but I’m thinking we’re getting closer to a lineup where if we can stay healthy, we’ll stay with it.”

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