Vaughn won't slow down

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

Two months from now, Gerald Vaughn will attend his 13th CFL training camp as eagerly as if it were his first.

Not that he's keeping track of such stats -- or ready to predict how many more before he's at his last.

"It's 13, 14 ... who's counting?" said Vaughn, the Renegades' elder statesman on a conference call from his home in Abbeville, Miss., yesterday, less than two weeks before his 35th birthday. "I can't put a number on (retirement). My body feels great. I'm working just as hard as I ever have, and I still have a lot of passion for the game.

"Who knows? As long as you writers keep saying good things about me, I might play forever."

It is difficult to find flaws in the classy defensive back-turned-linebacker, who started his career in 1993 with the Stampeders and, after three seasons in red, one with the Blue Bombers and seven more in Ticat stripes, became an original Renegade in 2002. Among his numerous pro accomplishments, Vaughn last season registered his 13th blocked kick, padding an all-time league record he owns.

While he has probably slowed a step with age, he continues to put up numbers. He led the league with five fumble recoveries, including one for a TD. He tied for seventh in the CFL with three forced fumbles. And he was second on the Renegades in defensive tackles, with 62.

And then there's his ability to adapt. Vaughn, who is also the team leader in morale, vocal practice enthusiasm and work ethic, will be playing for his fourth different defensive co-ordinator in Ottawa, as Greg Marshall has replaced Gary Etcheverry.

No problem, insists the former Ole Miss star.

"For me, I've been through this. I can pick things up quicker," said Vaughn. "The new guys haven't. They'll have to step up and do what's asked of them."

Vaughn might have to do some stepping up himself, as the loss of Kelly Wiltshire to free agency leaves the Renegades short a leader.

He says that others, such as Keaton Cromartie and Jerome Haywood, will also continue to fill such a void. But Vaughn is accustomed to playing that role, and any other asked of him, as he's worked at halfback and both the strong and weak-side linebacker positions since he's been a Renegade.

He's slated in at weak-side for the second straight season, but he'll be pushed for playing time by 26-year-old sophomore Syniker Taylor.

"What I think will happen is that Syniker will come in and play several spots on defence, and hopefully I'll be able to do my thing and we'll play at the same time when he's somewhere else," said Vaughn. "There's enough to go around."

Vaughn, who at 6-foot-3 and 205 lbs. remains a physical specimen with the help of a three-hour-a- weekday workout schedule in the off-season (weekends are reserved for basketball) he manages along with taking care of his 18-month-old twins, says he'd be more than willing to accept a move back to the secondary.

"Most definitely," he said. "I'd love to go back to halfback. Wherever they tell me to line up ... if I'm on the field, I'm happy."


Videos

Photos