Tony the Talker punted Barlow

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Tony the Talker finally has a chance to back up his words.

The Calgary Stampeders have converted Tony Ficklin from the defensive line to fullback and he will dress for the first time this season tonight against the Montreal Alouettes at Molson Stadium (5:30 p.m., TSN).

This isn't the first time the 6-ft. 2-in., 265-pounder has toiled on the offensive side of the ball and he says if it wasn't for his mouth, he might still be playing in the NFL as a blocking back.

A year ago, Ficklin was with the San Francisco 49ers when he says a locker-room argument with starting running back Kevan Barlow cost him his job. (More on Barlow's woes, see Page 63).

"If that wouldn't have happened, then I might still be there," Ficklin said. "We all make choices and have to live with the consequences. You just have to make the best of it.

"It was a misunderstanding. Barlow came to this (night) club I was working at (a year earlier) and I threw him out.

"He brought it back up and it started an argument in the locker-room. The coach didn't like it and Barlow wasn't going to get cut."

After getting his release from San Francisco, Ficklin joined the Stampeders as a defensive lineman, and playing with his distant cousin Demetrious Maxie.

During his first few months in Calgary, the 24-year-old was loud and boisterous, winning himself the Talker nickname despite just being a practice-roster player.

When he was brought back to this season's training camp, he kept the chatter to a minimum.

"You can talk a big game but you have to prove it," Ficklin said. "I might go back to it but I like being quiet and going about my business without getting any attention.

"I'm just working hard and keeping my mouth shut. When I get my opportunity, I just want to keep quiet and do it."

DRESS REHEARSAL: While the Stampeders had a reasonably smooth trip to Montreal, their equipment ended up in Ottawa.

The team did its walkthrough at Molson Stadium yesterday in street clothes and head coach Tom Higgins made a point of telling members of the McGill Redmen, who were watching, this wasn't the norm.

The Redmen were kind enough to lend the Stamps a couple of footballs so they could at least pretend to run through the playbook like a pro team.

"We talk about this at training camp," said Higgins. "When something is outside of your control, don't spend any time worrying about it.

"I told them our walkthrough would look like junior high kids. Don't let that be a distraction. It has a good feel to it. Let's go with the flow. It's a good lesson for everybody when you travel."

The equipment made it to Montreal last night.


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