Jackson's right in tune

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

KEMPTVILLE -- Teammates of Curtis Jackson's call him "Fitty", which is short for "50 Cent," the superstar rapper whose real name is also Curtis Jackson.

Coaches and quarterbacks just know him as dependable.

"He's steady," coach Joe Paopao said yesterday of Jackson, a 30-year-old from Fort Worth, Tex., who joined the Renegades midway through last season and is now penciled in at the starting wide receiver spot across the field from deep threat Jason Armstead.

"He may have dropped one, but I don't remember when it would have been. He catches the ball."

Paopao expects to have four or five import receivers when he declares his final roster -- and that includes Sean Bennett, who entered camp as a fullback/receiver and is now viewed as a receiver/fullback.

That means, barring additions, Armstead, Bennett, Yo Murphy and Jackson will be joined by either one or two of big target rookies Bashir Yamini, Larry "Sparky" Hamilton and Robert Quiroga.

THREE RECEPTIONS

Quiroga, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder out of Baylor, had three catches for 13 yards in Saturday's scrimmage, but he also dropped a ball that hit him square in the numbers.

Yamini caught two for 23 yards, but one perfectly thrown ball slipped through his hands before he regained control. He also drew the wrath of rookie QB Paul Peterson, who on one play scrambled and waited for Yamini to break from the flats before he finally gave up and threw the ball out of bounds.

"Yamini," yelled Peterson, as he pointed downfield "Run that way."

Hamilton, who like Yamini stands 6-foot-4, didn't have any receptions in the annual black-white scrimmage, but he was involved in a play that probably created some black and blue. He unloaded on defensive lineman Keaton Cromartie with what Paopao called "one of the biggest hits I've ever seen." The coaching staff is still marveling at how Cromartie managed to get up and track down the quarterback to make the play.

"One of those guys is going to play himself on the team, and one or some of them will play themselves off the team. That's the nature of the business," said Tommy Condell, the Renegades quarterback and receivers coach. "It's not Ticketmaster. Those (spots) aren't reserved seats. It's general admission. You have to try to get there first.

"Right now, what we're looking for is consistency ... who is going to do it on a consistent basis."

Like Jackson.

The 5-foot-10, 194-pounder began his pro career with the 1999 Hamilton Tiger-Cats before bolting to the NFL, where he spent the next four seasons. Two were spent with the New England Patriots, where he was coached by Bill Belichick and won a Super Bowl ring.

"I've been up against some tough competition ... all kinds of real good ballers," said Jackson. "I've been in the fire, and the experience has really helped me. But I'm still growing as a receiver.

"It doesn't really matter to me who else is here, you have to work wherever you go. It's my job to play football and their job to bring in who they need to bring in. I just have to make plays."

And by that, he'll continue making a name for himself.

"A lot of guys kid me," he said about being the "other" Curtis Jackson. "But I'm a totally different person than 50. He's a great artist and all, but Curtis Jackson is also my dad's name and I wear it proud."

AZZI SIDELINED

While tomorrow's pre-season opener against the Alouettes in Montreal should help coaches make their decisions on the new American receivers, an Ottawa-born pass catcher vying for more playing time in his second year with the club won't be able to suit up for the game. Former Ottawa Gee Gees star David Azzi will miss this one will a pulled left hamstring.

"No biggie, I'll be back soon," said Azzi, who is competing for work with the likes of fellow non-imports Pat Woodcock, Markus Howell and Darryl Ray, who has been injured most of camp.

"I was really hoping to get in there and make something happen to stick in the coach's mind ... but now I'll have to wait until the second game."


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