Ricky not raring to go

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

CALGARY -- Argonauts running back Ricky Williams will play his first CFL game in over two months tonight at McMahon Stadium against the Stampeders, but he's not exactly bouncing off the walls in anticipation.

In fact, his mood yesterday following Toronto's walk through on the McMahon field turf was alarmingly laid back, even for the notoriously low key former Miami Dolphin.

When informed by a reporter that Toronto head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons expects his time on the field tonight to be limited, Williams said: "That sounds good to me."

Someone else asked if he was "itching" to get back into the lineup, his reply:

"I'm not itching," Williams said. "I just do what I can. When you itch, it blinds you to the reality of what's going on. And if I'm itching, chances are I'm coming back too soon"

The Argos training staff may need some smelling salts to wake up Williams this morning.

Still, Clemons is expecting the brawny flower child, who currently is serving a drug suspension from the NFL, to be much more of a factor this time around than he was in his first four games in the CFL, prior to his injury.

"I think he has seen a lot more Canadian football at this point and has a lot better understanding of what we do," Clemons said. "As well, we're an offence that's a little more mature, an offence that runs the ball a little bit more than the last time he was in the lineup."

The 7-5 Argos certainly have run the ball more since general manager Adam Rita took over from fired offence coordinator Kent Austin on Aug. 6. The Stampeders, for their part, expect Williams to give their defence a different look than the Argos' other star back, John Avery, has given teams this year before he went down with an ankle injury.

Williams is a more physical back, who can bang over players, while Avery is more of a finesse back, a slasher.

In any event, the game tonight between two of the hottest teams in the CFL will likely come down to which back -- Williams or Calgary's Joffrey Reynolds -- has the bigger day.

For all the hype that is Williams, it's the Stampeders who actually have an advantage at that position. Reynolds has been dynamite this season, leading the CFL in total rushing yards with 1,175 and his second in total combined yards (1,433).

"Joffrey Reynolds may be the best back I've seen in a long, long, long time," Clemons said. "We don't think we can win that matchup, quite honestly."

To defeat the 8-5 Stampeders, a team that has lost only once at McMahon Stadium in seven games this year, the Argos have to contain Reynolds to some degree. Their best weapon all year as been the defence, especially against the pass. While the Stamps bring a very balanced attack on offence -- quarterback Henry Burris is second in the CFL in overall passing yards (3,335) -- the Argos defence has given up the fewest passing yards, more than 100 less than next-best pass defence, the B.C. Lions.

"You have to be patient and on top of your game to beat them," Calgary head coach Tom Higgins said yesterday. "We'd like to dictate to them. That will be our downfall or our success."


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