So John Hufnagel is not following in the footsteps of one of his coaching proteges, Corey Chamblin, and closing tomorrow’s practice to the fans.
Well, not all of it, at any rate.
But for the first time in a long time, the Stamps will close the doors to McMahon Stadium for a portion of tomorrow’s practice, and will take it a step further than Chamblin’s Saskatchewan Roughriders by also keeping the media outside of the hallowed confines.
Practice will begin at 10:55 a.m. (practices are a half-hour later this year after a player vote), and then at 11:55 a.m., fans and media will be ushered out until 12:35 p.m. so that the Stampeders can work on all sorts of cool trick plays. Or not. At any rate, no one will be around to see it.
It’s not quite the drastic measure that Chamblin took this week, shutting the doors to fans (but not the media) for two practices per week, and it’s far less drastic than what took place in the week leading to Hufnagel’s debut as the Stamps’ coach and GM in 2008, when he closed practice for the entire week to fans and the media.
And it’s certainly nowhere near the paranoia that runs rampant through the NFL, where the practice field is completely off limits to non-team personnel.
But it’s disturbing nonetheless, and one can only hope it’s not a sign of things to come.
One suspects that it’s during this closed-door time that the Stamps will show their true intentions in terms of what players will start (Marquay McDaniel or Landan Talley at slotback) and what players will sit (Arjei Franklin or Anthony Parker at wide receiver), among other things.
Certainly there will be more decisions to be made in light of the fact that there are more healthy players at Hufnagel’s disposal, with the likes of receivers Jabari Arthur and Johnny Forzani, defensive lineman Junior Turner, left tackle Edwin Harrison and linebacker Akwasi Antwi all taking part in Wednesday’s practice.
Meanwhile, defensive end Charleston Hughes was in a chatty mood after practice when asked about being snubbed by voters in the TSN Top 50 poll, which was released earlier this week.
Hughes finished just outside the top 50 after the poll conducted among media types from across the country (he was 22nd on my ballot).
“My first reaction looking at the list was that there’s a lot of suspect people on the top 50 list that I don’t agree with,” said Hughes with a smile. “But who am I to even mention anything about that? You know what, it’s all just a title. The numbers speak for themselves. You can compare my numbers to any other defensive lineman in this league, and none of ’em compare to what I do.
“I guess I was an afterthought.”
He wasn’t looking especially broken up about it on Wednesday, but I have little doubt it’ll serve as a motivator for Hughes, who had a tongue-in-cheek message for opposing quarterbacks this season:
“Be aware of the rest of ’em (other defensive ends),” said Hughes. “Don’t worry about me. I’m only 51.”