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New city. New team. New system.
There’s been a lot for Calgary Stampeders defensive back Brad Muhammad to take in during the early days of his second year in the CFL.
Fortunately, he’s got a fellow Floridian to help with everything.
“He’s a Florida guy, we speak the same language,” said Stamps field corner Jonathan Moxey, who is playing right next to Muhammad in the defensive backfield. “We mesh well. I’m glad to have him there.”
Muhammad was with the Ottawa Redblacks last season before signing with the Stampeders in free-agency.
He didn’t play in the team’s opening game of the season against the Montreal Alouettes, but played at the field half-back position in Week 2 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Week 3 against the Edmonton Elks.
All indications in practice this week are that he’ll be there again for Thursday’s return engagement with the Elks in Edmonton.
He’s adapted well to the spot, picking up five defensive tackles and a special-teams tackle in two games.
The open line of communication with Moxey has been a part of that, but the Florida connection runs even deeper than that. Richard Leonard was the Stamps’ field half-back last year, and Muhammad happened to play with the now-Ticat in college at Florida International University.
“I was able to learn from him in college,” Muhammad said. “We have the same playing style.”
That style is fitting in well with the Stamps so far. The defensive backfield has seemingly been cursed by the injury gods since the very start of training camp and that’s forced the coaching staff to do all sorts of mixing-and-matching but the unit appears to finally be taking shape now.
Moxey and Tre Roberson are both healthy, so the corner positions are taken care of for Thursday’s game against the Elks. Trumaine Washington seems to have settled in well at the boundary half-back spot, while Titus Wall has been a revelation at SAM and Raheem Wilson should be in his natural home at safety again after bouncing around in the early going this season.
And Muhammad looks set to continue with field half-back duties.
“He’s been versatile. He’s a good tackler, he competes really hard,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “I was hopeful that he’d come in and push. I wasn’t sure what our roster would look like, but at this point we’re still light in the DB group and he’s done a good job at field-half.
“I do think he’s a physical player, a tackler. He has a lot of space out there and has done a nice job.”
By all accounts, Muhammad has settled in well to his new football home.
There’s probably no way to have a more miserable season than the one the Redblacks had last year, so simply playing for an organization with a history of winning football games must feel like a step up.
But there’s more to it than that. While the Stamps defensive backs may, as a group, not be the most experienced group in the league, they do have high-end talent. Roberson has been an all-star. Washington led the CFL in interceptions last season, while Moxey was a CFLPA all-star and Wilson is inexplicably somehow still one of the most underrated players in the league.
Sure, injuries have forced the Stamps to play more than their fair share of inexperienced players in the defensive backfield this season, but the vets have still made it easy for Muhammad to fit in and figure out the Stamps’ system.
“We’ve got some solid vets in the group,” Muhammad said. “If things get kinda confusing, you know, we have vets who can help clear things up. We’re a good group, I know everyone thinks we’re young, but we’re a talented group.
“It’s one of the best systems I’ve been a part of, one of the best DB groups I’ve been a part of. We’ve gelled really well so I’m loving everything about this organization.”