Run plan on the double

IAN BUSBY

, Last Updated: 7:10 AM ET

Being the backup to one of the most durable running backs around can be a thankless job, and Ken Simonton found out the hard way.

For 18 weeks of the CFL season, Simonton's name was listed under the dreaded healthy-scratch list because star Joffrey Reynolds was chugging along as the Calgary Stampeders' main man.

That has changed. Reynolds was rested the final week of the regular season and Simonton performed great in his spot. Now, the understudy and the star of the show will both get on the playbill as the Stamps face the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West semifinal tomorrow in Regina (3 p.m., CBC).

For Simonton, getting the nod is recognition of all his hard work in practice this season. Even he didn't realize it would turn out this way when he arrived in training camp behind Reynolds and Wes Cates on the depth chart.

"I've never sat behind anybody good enough to keep me off the field for an entire season," Simonton said. "That's just the confidence you have.

"Even with Joffrey and Wes here, I didn't look at like I would never play. I may not start and may not be the man, but I was expecting to play.

"I get to come at this game from a different perspective. Up until last week, I had my mind convinced it wasn't going to happen this year."

No performance was going to bump Reynolds from his role as the every-down tailback.

But in the past couple of seasons when the Stamps were effective on offence, they had two capable import running backs on the roster. In 2005, it was Tony Stallings coming on late, then last year Cates played ying to Reynolds' yang.

So Reynolds sat back last week, rested and watched Simonton run for 114 yards and a touchdown in a loss to B.C., but the shifty back also caught four passes for 33 yards.

Reynolds welcomes Simonton's presence this week because the Stamps can use all the firepower they can find in what could be a high-scoring game in Regina. He will still play a key role in the outcome.

"Getting away for a week and a game, it gives you a chance to reflect on some things you can improve on," Reynolds said. "I got refocused. I don't want my season to end just yet. Looking back on it, it wasn't so bad."

With Cates doubtful for the Riders, the pre-season trade that sent Rob Lazeo to Calgary and Cates there is looking good because Simonton was a big part of why the Stamps were able to make the deal.

"Ken's a very good running back, but is just as good as a receiver because of his hands and the ability he has to run routes. He showed us. He wanted to make sure we knew he is a quality back and was worthy of keeping the whole year."


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