Jets ink Canadian speedster

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

Just one look.

That's all it took for the New York Jets to offer Edmonton Eskimos wide receiver Brock Ralph a contract.

The 24-year-old took nine days to think about the Jets' offers and finally signed on the dotted line last week.

"I'm heading down there at the end of March," Ralph said yesterday. "I got an offer and I kind of contemplated the decision.

"I had a lot of contact with the Eskimos throughout the process. I just kind of weighed things out and after a couple of days decided I wanted to go down there and take a shot."

Ralph auditioned with the Miami Dolphins before Christmas but the Fish didn't bite. He then strutted his stuff for the Jets on Dec. 28.

The Raymond-born receiver displayed his speed in the 40 and caught 20 or so balls tossed by New York's third-string pivot Brooks Bollinger during the brief workout.

He had barely pulled the key out of his New York hotel room door when his agent called to say the Jets had tabled a contract offer.

"I had a pretty good idea (they were interested) by what they said to me when I was leaving (the training facility)," said Ralph, who is entering the option year of his contract with the Esks and eligible to sign with an NFL club.

"(Speed) was one of the things that they talked to my agent about and said they liked."

Unlike former Edmonton starting quarterback Ricky Ray, whose signing bonus from the Jets was $163,000 US, Ralph settled for a more modest sum - likely between $10,000 and $20,000 US.

At six foot three, the University of Wyoming product has the size to play in the NFL. But the Jets would like Ralph to add about 10 pounds of muscle to his frame.

After missing most of his rookie season due to a broke collar bone, Ralph was the Esks' fifth receiver last season and had 49 catches for 634 yards and one major.

A standout during his college career at Wyoming, Ralph always dreamed of playing in the NFL and says now is the time to pursue that dream.

"This opportunity is not guaranteed down the road," he said. "I'm 24 years old. If you don't get an opportunity now, as you get older it gets tougher. If you're 26 or 27, you've got to be pretty special."

Now that he's lost Ralph, and with soon-to-be free agent Scott Robinson possibly in the market for a new CFL address, rookie Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia has his sights set on landing Deitan Dubuc.

"When you look at him he's six foot four and about 250 pounds and he runs a 4.57 (40)," Maciocia said from Montreal yesterday. "He is so much like Jason Clermont when you take a look at him.

"Obviously, he can catch the football, he runs well and he's a big target. It's not a given we'll line him up in the backfield (as a fullback)."

The 27-year-old Fabreville, Que., native was a tight end during his college career at Michigan and bounced around the NFL since leaving the Wolverines.

Dubuc's most recent NFL stop was in Houston. He is waiting for an NFL Europe opportunity to crop up. If it does, he'll head for the Continent. If not, he'll sign with the Esks.

"I always look at all my options," explained Dubuc.

"My dream is to play in the NFL and I'm going to do everything possible to do that.

"But if I realize I have to take a different path, I'll take a different path. Going to Edmonton is one of those options."

LATE HITS: DE Rahim Abdullah, QB Bart Hendricks, WRs Ed Hervey and Scott Robinson, RBs Troy Mills and Mike Pringle, OL Carlo Panaro, along with retired OL Leo Groenewegn and QB Ricky Ray round are on the list of Edmonton players eligible for free agency Feb. 15.


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