Rushing superpowers

Calgary Stampeders rusher Joffrey Reynolds finished second to Charles Roberts of the Blue Bombers...

Calgary Stampeders rusher Joffrey Reynolds finished second to Charles Roberts of the Blue Bombers last season with 1,453 yards and trails him by just 41 yards with six games remaining. (Calgary Sun File Photo)

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

Charles Roberts, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' flyweight tailback, is brandishing a heavyweight attitude.

And, he quickly points out, he backs up the bravado with the coveted CFL rushing title belt.

The league's diminutive ball-carrying king, based on his 1,624 yards in 2005, expects to retain his championship hardware this season despite a bold challenge from Calgary Stampeders running back Joffrey Reynolds.

"I went home last year with the belt and I want to come out of this year with the belt again," said Roberts, a six-year veteran who leads the 6-6 Bombers into McMahon Stadium tonight (7 p.m.) to challenge the 7-5 Stamps.

"I call it 'the belt' because being the rushing champion isn't easy. There's durability and circumstances like whether your team is in a position to run the ball, not always behind. It's not easy to do in multiple years and I've been fortunate enough to be on some good teams and have some offensive co-ordinators who like to put the ball in my hands."

Reynolds finished second to Roberts last season with 1,453 yards and trails the Bombers back by just 41 yards with six games remaining.

One half expects Roberts to engage Reynolds in a mid-field stare-down tonight.

"It's me and him and then there's nobody else, so we've pretty much got 1 and 2 locked up," said Roberts, who also claimed the crown in 2003.

"This game right here is probably going to be the determining factor. It will probably be over after (tonight). He's a good back and hopefully he'll be satisfied being No. 2," said Roberts, taking a good-natured jab at his nearest competition.

"I want to go out and put on a show, make sure I'm one of the most dominant running backs out there and I think I'm doing it."

Tonight's miserable forecast -- rainy and cold enough to make the mailman stay in bed -- hasn't dampened Reynolds' sunny disposition. Rotten weather means the Stampeders workhorse will play a crucial role in attacking the Bombers defence.

It's a scenario to brighten any running back's day, although Winnipeg provides the loop's toughest run defence. In four games against the Bombers, Reynolds has never topped 100 yards.

The Blue and Gold are obviously tough to run against.

"Hell, yeah," insisted Reynolds, faced tonight with the challenge of escaping the grasp of tackles Doug Brown and Ron Warner, bolstered by middle linebacker Barrin Simpson.

"They've got two interior guys who are grown men. Their front seven is one of the top units in the league."

While the 5-ft. 6-in., Roberts is more elusive than Reynolds, he is also expected to provide more punch to an offence that doesn't feature the multiple weapons fielded by Calgary.

"He carries a lot of the weight on his shoulders on their offence," said Reynolds, whose 6.2-yard average per carry is a full yard better than Roberts.

Tonight's contest is being dubbed a "character game" by many Stamps, who trail first-place B.C. Lions by two points and expect to rebound from a pitiful outing a week ago in Edmonton.


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