Ruffin's ready to roll

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

J.R. has his shot.

With Lenny Walls sidelined by an ankle injury suffered in practice last week, the Calgary Stampeders are turning to J.R. Ruffin to play halfback in the West final Saturday against the B.C. Lions (2:30 p.m., TSN).

Ruffin hasn't played a single game this season and missed most of last year with a knee injury. He only joined the practice roster in early September after proving he was healthy enough to compete.

Now, Ruffin is going to be matched up against the CFL's second-leading receiver in Geroy Simon.

"Geroy is the best receiver in the league we have to play against," an excited Ruffin said yesterday after taking first-team defensive reps.

"He knows his position really well and he's been playing in 18 games, so he knows the ins and outs. This is my first game, so he is going to know certain leverages I may have and will be able to react to them.

"It's going to be a big challenge going against the best in the game."

Walls was hurt Friday when he jumped up to knock down a pass and came down on receiver Reggie Williams' foot.

The first-year defensive back was helped off by quarterback Henry Burris and trainer Pat Clayton with an ankle sprain, and he looked to be in just as rough of shape yesterday.

In four games, Walls was performing as well as any defensive player and could be a huge loss because his size (6-foot-4) is disruptive to opposing receivers. He had 22 defensive tackles and an interception in four games.

But Ruffin didn't look out of place in practice yesterday, even picking off a pass in first-team drills.

If he does a decent job, this will be a great comeback story after Ruffin missed all but five games in 2007 due to his injury.

"I trained hard and rehabbed myself so I could get back ready to go," said Ruffin, who refused to leave town when he failed his training-camp physical.

"There was a lot of guys they could have chosen to go with. We had an unfortunate accident and one of our guys went down. He would have played and got the job done.

"I will step up and I don't think there will be any falloff.

"We have a week of practice and I'm playing, but that doesn't mean I won't be out here working hard.

"After practice, I'm going to keep going so I can get the job done.

"My speed is there.

"I have to learn the plays and get everything right."

Ruffin played all 18 games in 2006, plus the playoff game against Saskatchewan, so he's is familiar with the intensity of post-season action.

But he's still getting thrown into the fire.

"This being my first game, I will have some butterflies," Ruffin said.

"Going against Geroy in my first game, come on! That is a great athlete and a great player.

"But I'm also a great athlete and a great player."


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