Is signing all smoke and no fire?

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

Upon learning Ricky Williams had officially signed with Toronto, a common question was floating through the Calgary Stampeder's locker-room.

What are they smoking? Are the Argonauts finally going to run the football?

"Unless they start changing up the offence, he won't make much impact," said Stamps nose tackle Sheldon Napastuk.

"I would imagine now they will come out and try to run a bit more.

"I'm glad to get a recognizable name up here but there are all types of questions. What kind of shape is he in? Is he taking a little vacation for six months? Does he respect the league?"

Even with former NFL first-rounder John Avery in their backfield for the past few seasons, the Argos have used a pass-first attack with ageless quarterback Damon Allen.

Williams, who is under suspension from the NFL, is certainly not a lock to lead the CFL in rushing competing against the likes of Charles Roberts, Troy Davis and Joffrey Reynolds.

Defensive players around the CFL will likely key on him every play.

"He's just a football player," said Stamps linebacker John Grace. "Every guy in this locker-room has played against good football players. We have people who have played against Ricky and other great running backs in the NFL."

Stamps head coach Tom Higgins said the CFL should have respected the NFL's suspension and not allowed the Argos to sign Williams.

But now that the star running back will play in Canada, Higgins said it should give the league more exposure in the U.S.

"It will be interesting to see how this all plays out," Higgins said.

The Stamps don't play the Argos until late September, when the teams face each other in a back-to-back set.

"I'm looking forward to playing him," said linebacker Scott Coe.

"He's obviously been a star in college and the NFL, so he gets a chance to come up here and we get a chance to knock him around a little bit. He's still a human being."

There is plenty of talk about Williams being a power back more suited for the NFL and running between the tackles but Reynolds disagrees.

"If you see Ricky get in the open field, he can get away from people. I think he's a complete back," Reynolds said. "If he comes up here in shape, he's going to do really well."

EXTRA POINTS: The Stamps cut LB Ryan Folk, DB Kevin Edwards, DB Vernon Smith, WR Jamaal Perry and LB James Young yesterday. Only Folk, a University of Calgary Dinos product and a non-import, had previous CFL experience after spending two seasons between Montreal and Winnipeg.


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