Veteran receiver Begelton expecting to hit the ground running with Calgary Stampeders

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Reggie Begelton has some unfinished business with the Calgary Stampeders.

The speedy receiver re-signed with Calgary on Monday for the remainder of the '21 season. Begelton, 28, was a 2019 CFL all-star (102 catches, 1,444 yards, 10 TDs), but after the Stampeders (12-6) finished second in the West Division, their season ended with a 35-14 home loss to the third-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-7) in the conference semifinal.

Winnipeg went on to win the '19 Grey Cup and at 10-1 remains the class of the CFL, having already clinched first in the West. Meanwhile, Calgary (6-6) and the Saskatchewan Roughriders (7-4) are battling for second, with the B.C. Lions (4-6) and Edmonton Elks (2-8) both still in the playoff mix.

"If you go back to 2019, I strongly believed we had a chance to win it that year and Winnipeg took us out," Begelton told reporters during a video conference Tuesday. "Guess what? Winnipeg is up there again, so there is some unfinished business to do."

With Calgary on a bye week, Begelton is scheduled to arrive in Alberta on Wednesday. He's expected to begin practising next week and suit up Nov. 12 when Calgary visits B.C.

The six-foot-two, 205-pound Begelton has no preconceived notions of where he fits within Calgary's offence.

"Honestly, it's anywhere I can help the team win," he said. "I'm coming there to help the team, I am a team player, I'm not selfish ... it's not about me coming in."

Begelton had 149 catches for 2,236 yards and 12 TDs over three seasons with Calgary (2017-19) before joining the Green Bay Packers. Begelton spent most of 2020 on the NFL team's practice roster before being released at the end of training camp.

"With football, you have a window and the longer you sit on the couch, that window tends to get smaller and smaller, so I had to take advantage of the opportunities that were there," Begelton said. "With me being out of the game, I just want to get back and start having fun again."

And the native of Beaumont, Texas, fully expects to hit the ground running with Calgary.

"I'm ready," he said. "Of course, I have to get accustomed to the playbook and everything like that but me being who I am, I know I can do it.

"Until I actually get into that first game, I won't really get accustomed immediately. But I'd say after the first drive or two, I'll be there. The adrenalin will be running, so I'll be all right."

Begelton is the second Stampeder to return this season from the NFL as defensive back Tre Roberson re-signed with Calgary two weeks ago after a stint with the Chicago Bears.

Begelton said he learned plenty during his time with Green Bay spending time with quarterback Aaron Rodgers — the NFL's MVP last season — and in a receivers room that included Davante Adams, one of the NFL's best at that position.

"That was such a good room that no matter who I went to, they weren't afraid to speak out or help me," Begelton said. "Ego wasn't a big thing in that room.

"I was truly blessed ... because from what I hear, not too many rooms are like that. It was just a great opportunity for me as a person to grow."

And Begelton said he was amazed at the work ethic of both Adams and Rodgers.

"The fact I was able to see this man (Adams) work every day ... gave me inspiration," Begelton said. "The first day of practice he came with it ... and it was like, 'Oh, OK. I thought I worked hard.' No, no, this man worked.

"That Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams connection is crazy scary. The stuff you see in games, you see it at practice, too. It's like, 'Wow.'"

He also said the ultra-competitive Rodgers fans see on the field isn't who the star quarterback is away from the stadium.

"Everybody sees his persona on the field, but that is how it's supposed to be," Begelton said. "He's a winner, he goes above and beyond to do his job correctly and to the best of his ability and he expects you to do the same.

"Off the field, he's a great person. He's the most humble guy you'll ever meet."

Begelton admits he hasn't completely closed the door on a return to the NFL but is quick to add that thought is nowhere on his radar.

"It's something I would like to do, but that's not what I'm really focused on at the moment," he said. "I'm here with Calgary, we've got a Cup to go get."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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