Speedster makes 'return' to Stampeders practice

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:36 PM ET

Once every few Calgary Stampeders practices this season, the former speedster would breeze into McMahon Stadium.

It was nothing special, but J.R. Ruffin would drop by to make sure he wasn't completely forgotten by Stamps management.

So when he showed up this week in uniform, and took his first full-fledged practice yesterday, it hardly seemed out of the ordinary.

So begins the defensive back's comeback from a knee injury that has kept him out for more than a year.

And it's only through perseverance and determination to stick with the Stamps that led them to sign him back to the practice roster.

"I went from being one of the best kick returners in this league to just being a ghost," Ruffin said. "I felt for the longest time that I didn't want to watch practice but I didn't want to be sitting idle by myself.

"Sometimes I had to go and see who was doing what and say to myself I could do it just as well. I kind of stuck around and watched from a distance. I would be on the hill where they couldn't see me. "

Ruffin was a promising prospect when he first arrived with the Stamps in 2006, and he scored a 90-yard kickoff return touchdown against the Eskimos that season.

But the Idaho product injured his knee last season, and didn't recover from the problem in time for training camp this season.

In the past month, Ruffin has felt well enough to compete, and he credits fellow Stamps defensive back Calvin Bannister with helping him get into shape.

Before the season, Stamps head coach John Hufnagel promised Ruffin a chance at a comeback, and the GM held to his word.

If Ruffin can prove he has returned to the 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash and can get into game shape, he may be used as a returner this season.

"He worked awful hard over the last three months to get this opportunity," Hufnagel said. "So far, I've been pleased. He's shown no effects of the knee injury and we'll see what happens in the future."

Extra points

Stamps SB Nik Lewis (knee) sat out yesterday's practice but coach John Hufnagel said he expects Lewis to return today in order to prepare for the Toronto Argonauts Saturday ... Stamps DB Julian Battle left practice and his status is in doubt ... With LB Marc Calixte (knee) out this week, expect DL Pat MacDonald to make his season debut.


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