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‘Glad to be home’: veteran offensive lineman Derek Dennis returns to Calgary Stampeders

Calgary Stampeders' Derek Dennis adjusts his helmet on opening day of training camp in Calgary, Sunday, May 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

It’s looking like 2018 all over again for the Calgary Stampeders.

Veteran Offensive lineman Derek Dennis is the latest member of the Grey Cup-winning squad to return to Calgary after seeking playing opportunities elsewhere.

“I’m glad to be home,” the player nicknamed ‘Bonecrusher’ said. “It just made it simple to be able to get back to my roots where I started and where I’ve had the most success, and be able to continue building upon that.”

Read more: Calgary Stampeders, QB Bo Levi Mitchell agree to restructured contract

This contract marks Dennis’ third stint with the Stamps.

He suited up in red and white from 2015-16 and 2018-19, with a brief run as a Saskatchewan Roughrider in 2017.

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Dennis was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2016, earned West-Division all-star honours in 2016 and 2018, along with the aforementioned league championship.

Read more: CFL releases 2022 schedule, Tiger-Cats open season on the road in Saskatchewan

When Dennis and the Stamps were unable to come to terms on a new deal after the 2019 season, the Queens, N.Y., product spent a brief period of time with the now-defunct XFL’s New York Guardians.

A short, turbulent contract with the Edmonton Elks saw Dennis request a release shortly after signing on for the 2021 season.

After the Elks’ new management group agreed to grant Dennis’s plea, the newly-minted free agent immediately eyed a return to his old club.

Read more: Calgary Stampeders president says club has already started preparing free agent gameplan

Dennis reached out to Calgary offensive coordinator Pat DelMonaco to see if the team would be willing to make some room on the offensive line and the salary cap.

Within a matter of days, the deal was done.

“We welcome Derek back to Calgary,” Stampeders president and general manager John Hufnagel said. “He provides us with depth at the tackle position and I look forward to seeing him compete at training camp.

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The power of an opportunity stirs old feelings for Dennis.

He remembers coming to Calgary, undrafted and unknown, toiling on the practice roster before earning the promotion to the main squad.

Read more: Calgary Stampeders re-sign QB Jake Maier

Now 33-years-old, he still isn’t afraid to bet on himself.

“Sometimes in the game of football they look at people who are over the age of 30 and look at you as a dinosaur,” Dennis said. “In actuality, I’m just hitting my stride and just hitting my prime.

“I’m excited to get back and be able to show people that I’m still a ‘Bonecrusher.’ I’m still the guy that you remember seeing in 2016, 2018, and 2019… Maybe up it even more because I sat on the sidelines and watched a lot of guys enjoy themselves and be able to do what they do.”

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