The Calgary Stampeders' season doesn't kick off until tomorrow yet the games have already begun.
Head coach Tom Higgins is expected to start at least two newcomers in his secondary when the Stamps host the high-powered Edmonton Eskimos. Understandably, he was reluctant yesterday to provide a chalk talk highlighting potential soft spots.
"We're not going to declare until the 12th hour," insisted a coy Higgins.
"If (Esks coach) Danny Maciocia would like to know how we're going to line up, I'll give him 46 names and then he can guess and mix and match as to how we're actually going to line up and play them."
First-year CFLers Sadrick Williams and J.R. Ruffin will likely start at corner and half, respectively.
The two will be targeted by Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray, whose receiving corps is among the best in the league with wide receivers Jason Tucker and Ed Hervey along with slots Trevor Gaylor and Mookie Mitchell.
Ruffin is eagerly anticipating the challenge.
"They might be gunning for our side but we're very talented," said Ruffin, who enjoyed a sensational camp.
"You can only play in the street so long before you get hit. If they play in the street too much, they'll get hit.
"I want to see the ball and I want to show the coaches that I can play at this level and that as a rookie, I can perform out there."
Williams was going to rotate at corner until veteran Crance Clemons, acquired in the Ottawa dispersal draft, injured his hamstring in Tuesday's practice.
Williams will now fly solo and expects to be challenged by the Eskimos.
"That's personal," said Williams, a Kansas State product who spent part of last year with the NFL's Houston Texans.
"Any time a team sees new, young faces, they're going throw a lot of balls our way. But after three or four passes, hopefully they'll stop throwing my way. If they throw more than three or four, I'll hopefully have a pick out of one of those.
"This is a big game and I'll be ready to play, so I hope they think of me as a good corner and respect me because I'm going to make plays. That's why (the Stamps) brought me here. They wouldn't start me if I couldn't make plays."
Higgins is reassured by the confident stance of his new DBs.
"Neither one's going to be intimidated," Higgins said. "It's the nature of being a defensive back. He'd better be a little bit cocky that he can cover anybody.
"It's not like they've had an easy training camp. They've had to cover some pretty good receivers and there's a good receiving corps in Edmonton, so I would like to think the quality they've been covering would be very close to what they'll cover come game time."
Meanwhile, import WR Scotty Anderson won't play this week because of swelling in his knee. An MRI was negative. He will be replaced on the active roster by rookie import Beau Gibbs.