All Fired up about Joffrey

Injured Stamps receiver Ken Yon Rambo (left) has a laugh with Joffrey Reynolds as he watches...

Injured Stamps receiver Ken Yon Rambo (left) has a laugh with Joffrey Reynolds as he watches practice earlier this month. (Sun Media/Darren Makowichuk)

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

Joffrey Reynolds still gets little respect.

On a CFL website poll asking fans to choose the league's best running back, the Calgary Stampeders star was fourth in voting behind rookie Fred Reid, Avon Cobourne and former Stamps backup Wes Cates.

But he gets newcomer Devone Claybrooks' nod.

And it's not because Claybrooks -- signed as free agent by the Stamps last week -- once coached Reynolds with the NFL Europe's Rhein Fire.

"He was a hungry, young kid -- I call him a kid cause I'm older," said Claybrooks, who's two years older than the 29-year-old Reynolds and coached him overseas after playing himself -- and winning -- the 2003 Super Bowl with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "Success hasn't changed him."

Quietly going about his business in the backfield, Reynolds has been climbing closer to the top of the Stamps' all-time yardage mark.

With a seven-touchdown season so far, he's cracked the top 10 in that category, too.

Showing no signs of slowing down, Reynolds is still familiar to Claybrooks.

"I saw him when he was young and hungry, trying to make a roster," the defensive lineman recalls of the man he watched in Germany five years ago. "Now, he's stable, he's one of the best running backs in the league, and he's been putting up numbers year-in, year-out.

"With that, he's still been humble. He's still hungry. He still gets here early, still works hard, still does the things that will keep you on top. A lot of guys when they get there, their drive is gone. They get complacent. He's not that type."

Tasked with trying to stop the Stampeders tailback from tearing up the Alouettes defence in last fall's Grey Cup in Montreal, Claybrooks has seen what Reynolds can do on the field as a player and as a coach.

Now, he gets that opportunity as a teammate.

That gives the Stampeders three connections to the 2004 version of the Fire -- defensive backfield coach Corey Chamblin was a cornerback with the Fire that season.

"All three of us know each other from NFL Europe," Reynolds said yesterday. "Football, it's a small world and you get to meet a lot of people. Sooner or later, usually you run back into them."

The journey isn't over, but Reynolds found a home in the CFL after a few NFL stints with the St. Louis Rams, the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants.

Working extra hours with the Fire after being assigned to Dusseldorf by the Browns, Reynolds showed Claybrooks he had the work ethic to make a name for himself somewhere if given the opportunity.

"We did a lot of game-planning. We got to see him a lot," Claybrooks said. "He used to run scout team, too -- he was one of those few guys that was actually the starter and he ran extra reps with the scout team. If you're going against the first team with a scout team, you'll see a better look. You might not get better blocking, but you'll definitely see a better look on the defensive side of the ball."

Taking the same approach as a veteran, Reynolds continues to impress Claybrooks.

"The hardest part once you're successful is to maintain it," Claybrooks said. "Hard work and dedication. Not being content."

Talking about all-time Stamps running back greats a few years from now, those characteristics could be used to describe Reynolds -- who will likely be standing at the top of that list.


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