Yamini might have jump on competition

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

In the battle to win a receiver's job with the Renegades, Bashir Yamini would figure to have size on his side.

Both his and a minivan that answers to the name Dimitrius Underwood.

Yamini, a 6-foot-4, 195-lb. former track star, is one of three large and imported targets at their first Renegades camp. Larry "Sparky" Hamilton and Robert Quiroga are also trying to make a team that entered the off-season looking to get bigger receivers -- and would have had one proven veteran that qualifies had Ed Hervey not reneged on a free-agent contract.

MOST EXPERIENCE

All three have been noticed, but the 27-year-old Yamini has the most experience and the most impressive resume of the newcomers.

The former Iowa Hawkeye has been with Tennessee, Dallas and Carolina in the NFL. It was with the Cowboys in 2001 that he met Underwood, a former NFL first-rounder who is making a comeback attempt on the Ottawa defensive line as he deals with bipolar disorder, which is marked by wild mood swings.

Yamini is not only part of Underwood's support group, but also the one person the latter knew before coming to Ottawa.

"He's a really nice guy," said Yamini, who worked out with Underwood in Dallas during the off-season. "I just tell him if he ever needs anything, or if anything comes up, to feel free to come talk to me and I'd be glad to help him in the situation he has.

"He comes to the room and visits. We talk a little bit. I'm just making sure he's okay and everything ... I just don't want people to get a stereotypical perception of this kid. He's a good kid. He just has to keep working on everything he has to do on and off the field and he'll be fine."

Yamini is attempting a comeback of his own. He tore his ACL in Dallas just after he started making inroads with a seven-catch pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders that included a touchdown pass from Quincy Carter. Since the injury, he has been unable to catch on as a regular employee with any team.

Currently, Ottawa's depth chart has, as wideouts: Jason Armstead, Curtis Jackson and Markus Howell, as well as Yamini and Quiroga. At the slotback positions are: Pat Woodcock, Yo Murphy, David Azzi, Darryl Ray, Cory Hathaway and Hamilton.

The non-imports are Howell, Woodcock, Azzi, Ray and Hathaway.

"Competing and getting it done, that's always been there," said Yamini. "But you've got to overcome the injuries. This game is about staying out of the training room and getting better every day. You can't compete if you can't practise.

LONG JUMP CHAMP

"I feel pretty good about my chances here," he added. "Without pads, I've been 4.23 (40 yards), so I can definitely help as a deep threat. And my background ... I can go up and get the ball. I'm a national champion in the long jump and a seven-foot high jumper. So I think I can help."

All but 12 or so hobbled Renegades are expected to participate in the first controlled scrimmage of camp this afternoon (3 p.m.) at Kemptville Agricultural College, to which the public is invited.

Coach and GM Joe Paopao is expecting to run about 48 plays, or 12 per quarter.

Paopao is looking for players to make an impression in games -- and this will serve as a reasonable facsimile, at least.

"Any time you get a chance to have a window open and you can jump through it, that's always good," said Yamini, who came to Ottawa late last season for an audition. "Opportunities don't come often, they're slim, so when you get an opportunity, you take it. That's what football is about. When you get a shot, you've got to make plays. We're skill position players, we're the playmakers, so that's what we've got to do. Make plays."

CHIP SHOTS: Veteran OL Mike Sutherland had surgery on a broken finger on his right hand yesterday. He's expected to miss 3-4 weeks ... The Renegades are deciding whether to pursue veteran import DL Johnny Scott, who was recently released by Hamilton. Scott played for Forrest Gregg in Shreveport.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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