Crash cause for concern in secondary

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

Tim Burke saw the crash, his two defensive backs laying in a heap on the McMahon Stadium turf holding various essential body parts.

Suddenly, just five days prior to the Calgary Stampeders' CFL season-opener, the team's defensive backs coach braced for the worst and hoped for the best.

Dazed halfback J.R. Ruffin eventually struggled to his feet and returned to practice but field corner Crance Clemons wasn't as lucky.

The former Ottawa Renegade, expected to start Saturday when the Stamps host the Edmonton Eskimos, was carted off the field for medical attention with an apparent strained hamstring.

The two were injured breaking for a pass to Jeremaine Copeland on the first day of team drills in preparation for the season opener.

Burke said he was relieved he didn't lose both starters.

"That wouldn't have been good, no," said Burke, shaking his head.

"I think J.R. just came out of it with a headache."

Clemons, supporting his left leg with a crutch in the locker-room, couldn't believe his bad luck after going through three weeks of camp and two pre-season games without so much as a serious bruise.

Now on the eve of seeing real bullets fly, he might be shelved.

"I just tried to make a play on the ball and so did he and when you do that you have to try not to crash into other people but stuff happens," Clemons said.

"I don't think it's real serious, never hurt my hamstring before, but I hope to get back real quick.

"I had a few football nicks in camp but nothing more serious. It wasn't intentional, it just happened. Now I just have to do what I have to do to get back on the field."

If Clemons is unable to play, newcomer Cedrick Williams, currently on the practice roster, would get the start.

"I'm counting on Crance to be healthy and even if he can't play, I was planning on playing Cedrick some of the time at field corner anyway," Burke said.

The flexibility of the 46-man roster this season will make the problem easier to solve while halfback Jermaine Chatman can also play corner.

Joey Boese is also available to start at halfback.

"Our first team situation and our two defensive backs make a play on the football," said head coach Tom Higgins.

"It's very unfortunate but (Clemons) tells us he's a fast healer."

HIT REWIND: The CFL board of governors approved a salary management system and instant replay for this season at its annual meeting in Winnipeg.

A franchise committee was also formed to find new owners for the suspended Ottawa franchise and look at future expansion. But whether commissioner Tom Wright will be around if the Renegades return to the field next season remains up in the air.

"My position, my tenure, was not on the agenda for discussion so let's move on to the matters that are really the most important," Wright said during his press conference.

Last week, unidentified league sources told a newspaper league governors had informed Wright his contract wouldn't be renewed once it expires after this year's Grey Cup in Winnipeg on Nov. 19.

The board had given him a one-year extension last year, rebuffing his request for a long-term contract. The former president of Adidas Canada became commissioner in November, 2002.

The board also elected Winnipeg's Gene Dunn as its chairman and Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young as its vice-chairman.


Videos

Photos