Silent running

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

Working hard last winter on some of the skills needed to make him a more complete running back, Joffrey Reynolds returned to Calgary able to do everything asked of him.

Thanks to a new contract announced yesterday, those abilities now include buying dinner for a Stamps offensive line that has helped make him the league's leading rusher.

"I might be able to do that now," smiled the soft-spoken 26-year-old, who extended his deal to the end of 2009.

"I still owe them from last year so we might have to go out a couple times this year ...

"Wherever they want to go is fine with me."

While extending such a generous offer to a handful of the city's beefiest brutes may turn out to be a costly error in judgment, the third-year back has made very few mistakes on the field.

During a season in which fans and the media have focused on all that has gone wrong with the team, Reynolds represents one of the few bright spots on a club he still feels will live up to its Grey Cup billing.

"Even though we've lost three in a row, I'm still real confident in all the guys," said Reynolds, who will have to play a big part tomorrow if the Stamps are to turn things around against visiting Saskatchewan.

"Just remember though, we were 3-4 last year at this time, too, and we put it together. All the things that have been spoiling everything is us. Penalties, dropped balls ... I've fumbled a couple times."

Indeed, his fumble late in last week's game derailed the Stamps' comeback hopes, marking one of the only major gaffes he's had this season. However, his play overall has more than made up for it.

Despite having teammates such as Jeremaine Copeland, Nik Lewis and Ken-Yon Rambo, who are considered the main artillery in Calgary's offensive attack, Reynolds has managed to carve out a niche here few thought possible.

Leading his closest rushing rival, Winnipeg's Charles Roberts, by 68 yards, not only does Reynolds lead the loop with 672 yards, he also has a whopping 7.3-yards-per-carry average that dwarfs all other starting backs.

Yet, his newfound ability to come out of the backfield as a premier blocker or rusher has been overshadowed by the team's shoddy start.

"Me signing wasn't about getting recognition," said Reynolds, whose early NFL stops only saw him play special teams.

"The Stampeders wanted me to be a big part of the team. I felt wanted, so why not stay somewhere you feel wanted?"

It's a testament to his off-season work -- not the least of which included yoga -- that he has forced coaches to consider giving him the ball more, even if his workload pales in comparison to his rivals.

"We just need to sustain some drives so we can get more running plays," said Reynolds, as unselfish an athlete as you'll meet.

"If I could run for 50 yards and win 50-20, that would be great. The goal is to get to the post-season and get a chance at a Grey Cup."

Joining the club's other star this year -- kicker Sandro DeAngelis -- in signing an extension that eliminates any chance to try the NFL one more time until 2009, Reynolds admits that was the toughest hurdle to overcome in his mind.

"At the beginning, it was the hardest thing but the NFL season doesn't coincide with the CFL's and I would hate it if I went there next year and I got into a situation I didn't like or got cut and missed a season here."

Even if it would've saved him a ton in dinner bills.


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