Well-grounded attack

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

Although his new head coach is a former quarterback credited with opening up the passing game in the CFL, Joffrey Reynolds is excited about his immediate future.

The Calgary Stampeders running back has heard John Hufnagel believes the key to any successful offence is striking a balance between throwing and passing.

That's all the fifth-year veteran needed to hear to flash that characteristic smile heading into the season-opener tomorrow against the B.C. Lions at McMahon Stadium (8 p.m., TSN, QR77 radio).

"With Huf being an offence-minded guy, he will look at playing logically, knowing you can't pass all the time," said Reynolds. "If we can be consistent in moving the ball, that will lead to more opportunities to run the ball. That's the way I foresee it. You never know until you get there."

Reynolds is coming off his third straight 1,000-yard season and sits sixth on the Stamps all-time list with 4,722 yards rushing.

He once again averaged 5.8 yards per rush attempt last season, same as the previous two years, but his total yards dropped from 1,541 to 1,231.

He finished last season with only five carries for 11 yards in a first-round playoff loss to the eventual Grey Cup-champion Saskatchewan Roughriders.

With a new season comes a clean slate, and Reynolds believes the Stamps are contenders because of the returning cast on offence.

"We've always had the talent, and the guys feel more comfortable coming into the second straight year with the same offence," Reynolds said.

"It's a breath of fresh air with a new coach coming in.

"Everyone has to prove themselves to the new coach. It's the start of something new and this is a great challenge to start us off with B.C."

When Hufnagel was the Stamps' offensive co-ordinator in the early 1990s, he had 1,000-yard running backs in Tony Stewart and Kelvin Anderson. It just so happened the quarterback was throwing for nearly 6,000 yards and lighting it up.

"(The running game) is very important," Hufnagel said. "I want to be able to run the ball. You can't win just running it all the time, but you win easier if you can run the ball."

So even if Henry Burris and Dave Dickenson combine for major yardage, there will be enough touches for Reynolds and the other running backs on the roster.

"As long as you have a good mix, that's perfect. I would love to have 20 to 25 carries a game but sometimes the game doesn't play that way," Reynolds said. "If we move the ball down the field throwing it, one day the defence will just say, we're not letting you throw it anymore.

"It's also vice versa. If we're running the ball downfield, they will say we're not letting them run to beat us. As long as we have that mentality where we're using both, we're going to be successful."

At age 28, Reynolds feels he is in his prime.

The numbers would seem to suggest that. In addition, the Houston product feels he had a great off-season working on other aspects of his game.

There was also some great training camp competition in the form of Ken Simonton, Demetris Summers and Jon Cornish.

Already viewed as an elite back, Reynolds feels he is still improving.

"I want to get more into the passing game," Reynolds said.

"People say I don't catch the ball as well, but a lot of times they really aren't throwing it to me. I can improve that aspect of my game.

"With some more touches, I can show what I can do a bit more. This is a season of opportunities and physically I feel ready to take advantage."


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