Stamps' Jones centre of attention. Like it or not

 

 
 
 
 
CALGARY;  NOVEMBER 05, 2014  -- Calgary Stampeders Brett Jones during Stamps practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on November 5, 2014.  (Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald)   For SPORTS story by ?
 

CALGARY; NOVEMBER 05, 2014 -- Calgary Stampeders Brett Jones during Stamps practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on November 5, 2014. (Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald) For SPORTS story by ?

Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald

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In an exhaustive age of latent self-promotion, Brett Jones is a welcome respite from all the tweeting and bleating, chest-thumping and narcissistic look-at-me!-ing.

He’s happy being a centre. But a centre of attention? Uh, not so much.

The 2013 CFL Rookie of the Year is looking to add more hardware to the curio cabinet this Grey Cup week, vying against Montreal’s Jeff Perrett for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award.

“Just excited,” said the 6-foot-2, 320-pound broth of a boy from Weyburn, Sask., with typical bombast, as the Calgary Stampeders continued their bye week of preparation for the Nov. 23rd West final. “Just great to be mentioned as one of those guys. I dunno. I’m just more concerned with the next few weeks and winning the big one.

“I try not to think about it.”

Well, if Jones is loathe to wax eloquent about his expanding contribution at the hub position along the offensive front, others are more than happy to expound on his attributes.

Ask anyone on the Stamps. Start by asking the man he’s sworn a blood oath to protect. Ask the quarterback.

“Man,” whistled Bo Levi Mitchell, “he deserves it. He puts in so much work, so much effort. The guy’s intelligent. Having him in front of me … now, I’m not comparing myself to Peyton Manning, but I feel like Peyton having Jeff Saturday in front of him (in Indianapolis). A guy that knows everything, knows the calls.

“That’s the kind of relationship it feels like.”

For offensive-line coach Pat DelMonaco, the evolution of an offensive centre is a step-by-step process. So much is riding on the man in the middle. A centre, he must multi-task.

“Obviously, intelligence is No. 1 for the position. No. 2, toughness. And No. 3, an acute understanding of being a team guy. He’s just a really good football player. Got a great motor, plays with a great attitude. He’s everything you want in the middle.

“The biggest thing is: You have to be calm under pressure. He’s the quarterback of our group. Things are going to change last minute, he’s the guy that has to be quick re-directing us in the last few moments. That’s the key. He just has to make sure we’re in the right call for our front because everything we do blocking-wise is determined on how we identify the defensive structure.”

While in the employ of the Winnipeg a year ago, DelMonaco admits the Blue Bombers had cast a covetous eye on the University of Regina Rams , who eventually went second-round, 16th overall, to John Hufnagel and Co.

“We had some other needs to fill first,” he recalls, “but we were hoping he’d fall to us. He was a really physical player from the moment he entered the CFL. That was the most exciting thing about him.

“If you watch him play, the majority of the team he’s going forward and the person he’s going up against is going backward. In the simplest form, that’s what he brings to the table.”

The stability Jones had experienced at centre this year – last season, against certain opponents, old campaigner Jon Gott, dealt in the off-season to the expansion Ottawa Redblacks, was recommissioned back inside, shifting Jones sideways slightly to guard – has pushed forward the the 23-year-old’s development. He’s been able to settle, to increase his comfort level.

“And he’s embraced that,” says DelMonaco. “He was on a steep learning curve both years. This year, though, he lost his crutch. Jon Gott was able to kind of a relaxing voice to him, help him ID and help him take some of the responsibility. He didn’t have that this year. He had a rookie next to him, (Shane) Bergman. He’s had a revolving door, at times, at the guard spot. And he hasn’t had the comfort of someone who’s been there, done that, to lean on.”

Jones readily acknowledges the increased sink-or-swim aspect of his job this year, with Gott carrying on out east in the nation’s capital.

“Without Jon here, a veteran like that … Stanley (Bryant)’s still here but he’s one guy removed (at tackle),” said Jones. “Having Gott last year, he was such a big help. It’s been different this year but I think I’m a better player for it.”

The best, maybe, along the offensive wall in this league. If Brett Jones could be considered a revelation a year ago, this campaign he is topping himself.

In winning, Jones would join a select company of two, Ben Archibald (2010) and The Big Chill, Fred Childress (1998), as the only Stampeder O-lineman to collect the offensive-lineman award since its inception in 1974.

Not that, even in this , he’ll be caught waxing eloquent about himself. So ask a guy he helps pick locks along the defensive front. Ask the hands-down best tailback in the land.

“Last year, he might’ve been the outstanding lineman, too,” lauded rushing champ Jon Cornish. “It just says how much a part of our team he is. He’s our centre but he’s literally the centre of our offence. For him to get the (West nomination), I’m not surprised.

“I won’t be surprised when he wins it.

“And if he stays around next year, and doesn’t go south, I won’t be surprised when he wins it again.”

gjohnson@calgaryherald.com

twitter.com/GeorgejohnsonCH

 
 
 
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CALGARY;  NOVEMBER 05, 2014  -- Calgary Stampeders Brett Jones during Stamps practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on November 5, 2014.  (Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald)   For SPORTS story by ?
 

CALGARY; NOVEMBER 05, 2014 -- Calgary Stampeders Brett Jones during Stamps practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on November 5, 2014. (Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald) For SPORTS story by ?

Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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