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B.C. Lions' Jamal Robertson celebrates as he crosses the goal line after rushing for a touchdown against the Calgary Stampeders during first half CFL action in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday August 7, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck (DARRYL DYCK)
B.C. Lions' Jamal Robertson celebrates as he crosses the goal line after rushing for a touchdown against the Calgary Stampeders during first half CFL action in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday August 7, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck (DARRYL DYCK)

Lions never say die Add to ...

Without confidence the B.C. Lions wouldn't have much.

It sounds strange that a team tied for the worst record in the CFL would feel good about itself, but that's the attitude the Lions (1-6) are taking into their game against the Calgary Stampeders (6-1) Friday night at Empire Field (TSN, 10:30 ET).

"Why should we lose confidence?" quarterback Casey Printers, who will get the start against Calgary after missing four games with a knee injury, asked Thursday. "If you lose confidence, then you will tank it all the way.

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"Being 1-6 doesn't show the character of this football team, it doesn't show what we really are. It's just the fact we have not outscored people. That's the only difference"

It was pointed out to Printers that in the world of sport, outscoring people is rather important. Sort of like firefighters find it important to put out fires.

Printers said outscoring clubs can convince a team "you are better than maybe what you are." He argued the Lions' losing will build character that will be important later in the season.

"We have lost games," Printers said. "Actually it is going to help us down the stretch to have lost games like we have. It's going to be good for us."

Before his injury Printers had completed 50-of-88 passes for 591 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. His 56.8 per cent completion ratio is the lowest in the league.

Printers denies feeling any extra pressure to stop the Lions' slide.

"I've just got to do what the offence requires," he said.

John Hufnagel, Calgary's head coach and general manager, said Printers brings veteran experience and poise to the B.C. offence.

"He's a dangerous quarterback," said Hufnagel. "We have to be ready to try and contain him and limit the amount of things he can do so well."

Wally Buono, B.C.'s head coach and general manager, said Printers plays with a confidence and enthusiasm that helps his teammates.

"Casey is more emotional and I think that maybe brings out a different persona with everybody else," said Buono.

Slotback Geroy Simon, the Lions leading receiver, is happy Printers is back at the controls.

"He just brings a difference dimension," said Simon, who has 30 catches for 439 yards and two touchdowns.

"When your starter comes back you get that confidence."

The B.C. offence has struggled this year, scoring a league-least 135 points. Meanwhile, the Calgary defence has allowed just 142 points, least in the league.

The Lions have been forced to juggle their offensive line again.

B.C. had hoped Sherko Haji-Rasouli would be ready to play against Calgary but he re-injured his knee during practice. That means Jon Hameister-Ries will be moved back to left guard, second-year player Justin Sorensen will be right tackle and Dean Valli centre.

An inconsistent offensive line and being forced to use second-year player Travis Lulay at quarterback has been blamed for some of the Lions woes. Printers said pointing fingers doesn't help.

"I don't buy into the hype the offensive line is the issue or the quarterback is the issue," said Printers.

"It's everybody collectively doing their job when they are supposed to. Then we won't have these issues."

The only reason the Lions still find themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot is because the Edmonton Eskimos are equally inept at 1-6. The Lions have also lost eight consecutive games against the Stampeders, including the 2008 West Final.

Both the Lions and Stampeders are coming off bye weeks. B.C. slotback Paris Jackson said the Lions used the time to refine their play and refocus their minds.

"This is a new season for us now," he said. "We can't worry about what happened for the first seven games.

"Now we have to worry about the next 11 (games). It starts now against Calgary."

The Stampeders used a late interception of a Lulay pass to defeat the Lions 27-22 on July 30.

Calgary quarterback Henry Burris said his team shouldn't expect to roll over the Lions.

"The last time we played it was a tough game and we know it's going to be a tougher contest because those guys have had a couple of weeks to regroup and get some guys healthy," said Burris.

"I like our mindset. Guys are more focused getting better and executing the small details."

A small player that has had a big impact for the Lions is running back Yonus Davis.

In just three games on special teams Davis has used his blazing speed and shifty moves to collect 407 yards on 29 returns, including a 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The five-foot-seven, 190-pounder from Oakland also has rushed four times for 91 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown dash.

Doing a lot with a little is something Davis specializes in.

"That is what I have been doing my whole life," the 26-year-old rookie said with a smile. "I love my role right now, being able to do something for this team. I'm good with pressure.

"Now it's for me to keep doing what I have been doing. Hopefully we can get some Ws around here."

Jackson said Davis's enthusiasm is infectious.

"Any time you have a guy that can put the ball into the end-zone, which we have been having problems doing this year, it brings a spark to our team," said Jackson. "He's just one of our explosive guys.

"Right now we are going to keep on running with him."

 

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