New linebacker zeros in

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

TORONTO -- When Tim Johnson suits up for the Calgary Stampeders tomorrow night, he will make history.

And he didn't even know it.

No one has ever worn No. 0 in a Stamps regular-season game.

Of course, Sugarfoot Anderson's No. 00 is on the Wall of Fame, but the single zero is usually given to long-shots at training camp or junior players working scout team.

So Johnson will surely stand out when the Stamps face the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre, but the newly signed middle linebacker is up for that challenge.

"This is a bold move by the organization and by myself to come up here," Johnson said.

"I starting thinking, 'Let's go somewhere no one else has ever gone before.' In the NFL, you can't wear it. No one has ever worn it here. Gimme zero!"

Johnson has other motives for the digit switch.

When the 31-year-old, six-year NFL veteran participated in his first practice, he wore No. 41. Not much of a statement there. By playing the quarterback position with the defence, Johnson felt he needed to look like a leader.

Henry Burris is the undisputed captain of the offence and he wears No. 1, so Johnson went one better (or smaller as the case may be).

"I want to be a leader and in the process of being a leader, those types of numbers matter," Johnson said.

"I've never done it before. I know it's awkward and out there, but the team is picking up on it pretty good."

As with the case for any newcomer, there is a fine line between becoming an inspirational leader and rubbing teammates the wrong way.

It didn't take long for JoJuan Armour to become the voice of the Stamps defence a year ago.

The Stamps could use the same type of energy from their new addition.

"Any time you come to a new team, you need to show what you can do before you can actually be a true leader," said defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones.

"He understands that. The guys understand that.

"We want leadership from everybody and it's not exclusive to him. We have to get everybody out there accountable for what he does. We expect the same for a new guy."


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