Coach fine Ruffin it

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

J.R. Ruffin won't play the Lex Luther role today.

When B.C. Lions star slotback Geroy Simon scores a touchdown, he breaks out a Superman pose as if he's conquered a villain.

"He's never done it on me, so I have no idea how that feels," said Ruffin, the Calgary Stampeders defensive back charged with covering Simon in the West final (2:30 p.m., TSN).

"I've never had him pose against me, so you have to ask somebody else.

"I'm ready to play. This has been a long week. I can't wait for it to be here. I can't wait to just get out there."

Although Ruffin hasn't played a single game this season, the Stampeders believe he is the best option to replace Lenny Walls as the starting defensive halfback.

Walls, who was injured in practice last Friday, did a good job covering Simon in the season-finale.

Ruffin was a starter in 2006 before missing all but five games last season with a knee injury. He failed his physical in training camp, but asked head coach John Hufnagel a chance to join the practice roster if he successfully rehabbed.

It seems lucky for the Stamps now, but Ruffin was determined not to let his career end on an injury.

"I am always motivated by Grant Hill," Ruffin said of the former basketball star who was plagued by injuries.

"He was real good early on in his career. He hurt his ankle, and I hurt my knee. It's been a long road coming back and to get back out there is a blessing."

Hufnagel is confident in Ruffin and thought he was a better option than moving over rookie Brandon Smith from the other halfback spot and bringing Calvin Bannister off the injured list.

"J.R.'s going to be tested," Hufnagel said. "It was a decision we made because we didn't want to make two changes.

"J.R. has been here since the practice roster expanded (in September), so it's not like he just got here. He proved to us that he deserved to play.

"When training camp started and he didn't pass his physical, he asked if he got healthy enough, would I let him come back and try out. I said yes.

"I'm glad we had that conversation. Now, we're hoping for the best."

Simon has 16 games under his belt this season and finished second in the CFL with 1,418 yards.

He is familiar with Ruffin and considers this an advantage for the Lions, but Simon expects the defensive scheme to protect the defensive back.

"I know some of the things he does well and some of things he doesn't do well," Simon said. "It's not that he's going to be straight up man-to-man.

"He will have help, and it doesn't matter as a defender. If they do their job and take care of their responsibility, they won't get hurt."


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