Happy to be here

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Khari Jones walked into McMahon Stadium for his first day as a Calgary Stampeder, pulled on a loose-fitting ball cap and flashed a smile as wide as the Bow Valley.

After weeks of trade speculation, the former Winnipeg Blue Bomber finally has a new home and he couldn't be happier.

He becomes the Stampeders No. 1 quarterback after a five-player blockbuster deal yesterday sent the 2001 CFL MVP to Calgary.

"Once you hear your name in so many different situations, you just want something to happen," said the 33-year-old Jones.

"I'm glad it happened here. We just have a lot of things here that are going in a positive way and I just want to contribute. I just want to get to know the people here and try to blend in the best I can."

This has been a tough season for Jones, the Bombers' No. 1 pivot since 2000. On-field struggles and a shoulder injury limited the California-Davis product to only nine starts, as he lost his starting job to Kevin Glenn.

Jones' ineffective play early this season contributed to the Bombers' slow start, which cost head coach Dave Ritchie his job.

"When a team is struggling, the coach and the quarterback are going to hear a lot about it," Jones said. "I understand that. I understand that coming in here today.

"The quarterback is the only (player who) gets the wins and losses behind his name, even though it's a team game.

"That's what you sign up for. The biggest thing is remaining myself throughout and trying to help the team win until the end. I hope to bring that here."

Jones likely won't dress for Wednesday's game in Toronto. Rookie pivot Mike Souza is expected to get the starting nod.

The injured shoulder that kept Jones out of Winnipeg's lineup the past four games is nearly 100% and he's ready to resume practising.

After the Toronto game, the Stamps have 18 days off before meeting the Argos again at home Oct. 16.

With the playoffs a long shot this year for the 3-11 Stamps, Jones has the unenviable task of leading Calgary back to the post-season.

"I'll do everything I can to make this team feel stable," said Jones, who is signed through the 2007 season.

When Jones arrived at Winnipeg in 2000, the Bombers had spent years at or near the basement of their division. The rangy quarterback changed all that, never missing the playoffs and taking the team to the 2001 Grey Cup.

So Jones isn't the least bit scared off by the Stamps' troubles in the past three seasons.

"I just see it as a great opportunity," Jones said. "I love challenges, I love the idea of trying to help a team win football games.

"I was pretty successful in Winnipeg doing that for a long time. Now I want to be successful doing that here."

Although he won't label this trade a new lease on life, Jones agreed he needed out of Winnipeg for a fresh start.

"It was probably time," he said. "Once you have a level of success at one place, people don't want to hear about excuses or the problems or what's really going on ... They just want to see results."


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