Block-buster addition

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:55 AM ET

During the bye week, calls went out to find someone who can make a big play and step into the spotlight for the Calgary Stampeders defence.

That could easily describe Tim Johnson's resume.

No matter what else happens in his career, the highlight for the Stampeders' new middle linebacker will always be breaking through coverage, blocking a punt and having it returned for a touchdown in the 'Big Game.'

It was Super Bowl XXXVIII in January 2002, and Johnson was with the Oakland Raiders in the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The play still resonates all these years later for the product of Youngstown State.

"It was glorious for me," Johnson said. "As a team we lost, but for me individually, everyone respected me. We were all trying to make plays, and it was a great event for me. We lost, but at least we got there.

"Hopefully, we can get to a Grey Cup and I can help get there. I'm starving for a championship. Just win one."

Johnson arrived in Calgary yesterday and took part in his first CFL practice.

The Stamps seem to have high hopes for the 54-game, six-year NFL veteran.

The 6-foot, 240-lb., 31-year-old took most of the reps at middle linebacker yesterday with Tray Blackmon out with an ankle injury.

Opponents have run at will against the Stamps, and the team brought in Johnson plus defensive linemen Devone Claybrooks and Jim Davis to help shore up that area.

To make room on the roster, defensive lineman Justin Brown was released.

Claybrooks, who actually earned a Super Bowl ring with the Bucs in 2002, played the past two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes, while Davis spent last season with the Eskimos.

Of the three, Johnson has the best chance of playing Friday in Toronto against the Argonauts.

"Tim's a mature person who has been around," said Stamps head coach John Hufnagel.

"We didn't want to bring in another young linebacker who we would starting from square one. He has a good grasp of football. He seems to have picked the system up fairly well.

"After one day of practice, I'm not disappointed with what he accomplished out there. I think he will be able to help us stopping the run and the other responsibilities we expect from the (middle) linebacker."

Johnson spent five seasons with the Raiders before one campaign with the Baltimore Ravens. He's been out of football for two years.

In his time in the NFL, he's played with such linebackers as Bill Romanowski, Bart Scott and Ray Lewis.

Johnson qualified for veteran minimum salary and that pushed him out of the NFL, but he's financially secure now.

He is still chasing the ring, and joining the defending Grey Cup champs mid-season is a great chance for him.

"I've been around championship-calibre teams throughout my career," Johnson said. "To hear Calgary wanted me, I said 'Why not?' It's a great chance to play linebacker.

"I played with a lot of teams in the league, but a chance to play middle linebacker again is awesome."

By all accounts, Johnson plans on being here long-term. He brought his wife, Schirin, and daughters Sorayah, 3, and Talahni, 1, with him.

This is the first time the family has seen this part of the country.

"I wasn't leaving them," Johnson said. "They need to see this. It's too tough calling back home and telling them what is happening. They need to be wherever I'm at.

"The kids have watched Daddy run and run, watch tape and watch tape, so now they get to understand what it's all about."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos