'Gades running after Vilimek

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

While working and waiting on Mike Vilimek, the Renegades have signed a couple of veteran NFLers for their backfield.

Other than the fact they are not a tall and talented receiver, the only problem with them is their nationality.

These days the Renegades are trying to bring back Vilimek, the second player picked in the 2002 draft, and finally make him their starting fullback. First on their depth chart at that position the previous three seasons was Mike Maurer, who the Sun has learned will be the next to exchange an Ottawa uniform for the green and gold of the Edmonton Eskimos.

Vilimek, a Vancouver native who was a star tailback at Simon Fraser, is anxious to carry the ball, which he has only done a handful of times for Ottawa.

With veteran Bruno Heppell still bothered by a hamstring injury that kept him on the sidelines the last couple of months in 2004, the Montreal Alouettes are among the teams trying to lure Vilimek dangling the ball (and promises of carrying it) in front of him.

EXCEPTIONAL TOOLS

Truth is, nobody in the league uses a Canadian as its featured back and, while Vilimek has exceptional tools, he does lack the wheels.

Also, most teams have mobile QBs who throw a lot. Rarely do fullbacks get more than three or four touches per game, which is what Vilimek could probably expect with the Renegades.

"We're still talking to Mike ... I'd bet our offer is the best out there," said Renegades GM/coach Joe Paopao, who is thought to be waving a contract in the $85,000 range. "We want him back in the worst way. He's a good, upcoming guy, a better runner (than other fullbacks in the league). We'd give him the ball. But we're at an impasse. We'll let him look at his options, and hopefully it will come to a resolution some time (this) week."

In the meantime, the Renegades have made it clear running back Josh Ranek will have some competition at training camp. Yesterday, they announced they have signed Herbert "Whisper" Goodman and Ka Ron Coleman, both of whom were put on the team's neg list last season by former GM Eric Tillman.

Goodman, 27, spent four years (2000-03) with the Green Bay Packers and last season has a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. At 5-foot-11 and 205 lbs., he has decent size to go with explosive speed, reminding some of former Toronto Argo/B.C. Lion power back Robert Drummond.

Coleman, 26, played under Renegades QB/receivers coach Tommy Condell when he was at Stephen F. Austin University. He has also spent the past five seasons in the NFL, with the Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans.

Coleman has the physical stature of Ranek, as he is listed as 5-foot-8 and 198 lbs. He also has strong bloodlines -- his father, Ronnie Coleman, was Earl Campbell's backup with the Houston Oilers in the 1970s.

Should they lose Vilimek and fail to trade for or draft a Canadian fullback who can start, the Renegades would consider starting two imports in the backfield. But to do that, they'll need to find an extra non-import to start elsewhere, and their Canadian content has been taking a beating since free agency began.

And then there's the primary need they identified heading into the off-season: A wide receiver with some size who can provide a deep threat as the bookend to Jason Armstead.

Said Paopao: "They're out there. We've just got to go and get them.

"If you're not afraid to work, you can find guys."


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