After 2 years away from football he's back in the game as a backup QB for the Calgary Stampeders:
Sat, June 16, 2007
Smith steals show in Stamps debut
UPDATED: 2007-06-16 01:55:36 MST
By IAN BUSBY, CALGARY SUN
Early indications are Akili Smith won't be the Calgary Stampeders Achilles heel this season.
The former first-round NFL draft pick made his CFL debut last night and, although it was only pre-season, certainly impressed with his quarter of action.
Smith started the game at quarterback with most of the first-team offence and quickly led the Stamps to a 17-point lead as Calgary beat the Edmonton Eskimos 28-3 at McMahon Stadium.
Smith's outing gives the Stampeders much more confidence in making him the main backup to Henry Burris this season.
"We feel much better now that if Henry should falter or get injured, we have someone who can execute our offence and the opportunity will still be there to win football games," said head coach Tom Higgins. "It's usually something that happens during the year."
Showing great scrambling ability on several plays, Smith led the Stamps to scoring drives on three of his first four possessions with good game management and poise in the pocket.
Smith started his first drive by hooking up with prized free-agent Marc Boerigter on a 13-yard gain, setting up a Sandro DeAngelis field goal.
The next possession was more impressive, as Smith hit Ken-Yon Rambo on back-to-back plays to open up some field for running back Wes Cates.
Although he was only 4-of-8 passing for 48 yards, he showed very little rust after being away from football the past few years.
"I had some fun out there. I still have some things to work on but, for the most part, I'm happy with the way the team played," Smith said. "I haven't felt this way in a long time. It's been a long time being in that position wearing actual uniforms with the crowd cheering."
When Smith handed the ball to Burris, the undisputed No. 1 quarterback acted exactly like he deserves to keep his job, finishing 6-of-7 passing for 72 yards.
A mistake on a punt return by rookie Keenan Howry put the Stampeders on their own one-yard line but Burris quickly moved them out of danger by hitting Rambo for a 19-yard gain.
He quickly hooked up with Boerigter for another first down, which is something Stampeders fans will likely see a lot this season.
The rest of the night belonged to veteran receiver Jeremaine Copeland, who continued his great training camp with an even better pre-season game.
He caught a bullet from Burris in the first half with a defender bearing down on him and made another catch for 30 yards before halftime. Copeland's best play made rookie quarterback Ryan Cubit's numbers look decent.
Cubit hit Copeland in stride over the middle but the receiver did most of the work, finding a seam through the defence and juking and jiving down inside the 10-yard line. In all, it turned out to be a 49-yard play.
"I wasn't so much proud about the great catch and that he didn't spike the football but when they took an unnecessary roughness penalty on him, he used to retaliate to that," Higgins said.
"He didn't this time."