Lions training camp opens

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

The Fraser Valley can hardly contain the size of Tony Simmons' smile.

The B.C. Lions' receiver is clearly enjoying his return to the field at the CFL club's training camp at Abbotsford Exhibition Park.

The five-year NFL veteran's first season in Canada ended in the fifth game against the Calgary Stampeders at B.C. Place Stadium on July 29, 2005. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, broken fibula, bone contusions and a calf muscle tear and needed surgery.

"I had a little mishap," Simmons said. "In the end I went home, got my mind back, started training hard again, came back and I'm feeling good again."

As much as he's looking to confirm his spot on the squad, he's hoping to line-up alongside some new pass-catching talent.

"Maybe there's a rookie out there who might have a new spark for us; we need some new jokes," Simmons said. "New and different styles of running and styles of playing always help out."

Training camp began Sunday with 79 players. The roster will be whittled to 46 - plus a seven-player development list - by June 10. The camp features 32 new faces, but veteran defensive lineman Brent Johnson said it's a better atmosphere than last year's in Chilliwack.

"We have less pressure this year to come out and perform miracles right from day one," said 2005's most outstanding Canadian. "We're going to put in a sound defence, were going to have a sound offence and play the type of football we should've been last year."


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