Healthy return of return specialist gets big boost

IAN BUSBY

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

The sprinter has cleared another hurdle in his comeback attempt with the Calgary Stampeders.

Defensive back and return specialist J.R. Ruffin is still with the team after CFL's practice rosters were cut down this week.

The Stamps instead released two other players and will likely keep Ruffin the rest of the season, although he is still doubtful to play Monday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Still, after missing more than a year with a knee injury, Ruffin is excited about the news last week he was staying.

"I'm happy, because you never can tell what the coaches think," said the Idaho product. "I was giving my all, and they never say much to you about how well you are doing.

"By getting moved up, that means I'm doing something right. I always felt I was doing well, and I was hearing how my breaks were good. I'm happy ... but I'm going to keep going harder."

Ruffin has taken a few reps on kickoff returns, as well as working on the scout team for defence, and he is getting close to coming back.

He started this week believing he was going to get activated, but that doesn't appear to be case because he is taking fewer turns with the starting defence.

When asked if he's ready to play, Ruffin gave the standard football player answer.

"Of course I would say yes, but in reality, it's all about what the coaches think," Ruffin said. "When they tell me I'm ready, that's when I'm going to say 'I'm pumped to go.' I want to get back in there and return some kicks."

Ruffin hasn't played full-time since early last season when he needed surgery on his knee.

It's been a long time since 2006 when he scored a 90-yard kickoff return touchdown versus the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium, and it was the last one the Stamps have scored that way.

But he gets reminded of that play all the time because it is played on a commercial during CFL broadcasts.

"That's my pride and joy. I taped it once. I love it. That shows when I was at 100% that I was one of the best," Ruffin said. "I love having it come on while friends are over watching games with me."

EXTRA POINTS

Stamps OL Jesse Newman left practice early yesterday with a burner, but head coach John Hufnagel doesn't expect it to be serious. Even if Newman doesn't play, it appears the offensive line wouldn't take a huge hit because RT Jeff Pilon seems set to return from his shoulder injury. Derek Armstrong could continue playing at Newman's left guard spot if the rookie can't go ... The Stamps should have a full complement of receivers as SB Nik Lewis and SB Teyo Johnson took full practice reps yesterday and are ready.


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