The Argo airlift has brought in two new players, including one who might challenge John Avery at running back. In what may be classified as a move to either protect themselves in case Avery develops an injury or a chance to evaluate a prospect they've been tracking for some time, the Argos have signed running back Brian (Skip) Hicks. He joined the team yesterday along with receiver Marvin (Snoop) Minnis, who follows Andre (Bad Moon) Rison and Arland Bruce III as the latest additions to the receiving corps.
Rookie receiver Marc Lester, who found himself on and off the roster after making the team, was cut because of the latest moves.
Adam Rita, the Argos vice-president of football operations, said the newest additions provide experience and depth. Both are former third-round picks in the NFL who have bounced around in their pro careers.
Hicks finished his four-year college career at UCLA in 1997 with a school record 55 touchdowns. He played three years with the Washington Redskins, then joined the Tennessee Titans in 2001. Hicks' only meaningful game time since the 2001 season came this year when he played with Frankfurt in NFL Europe.
"I just knew that if John Avery got hurt and (Canadian backup) Jeff Johnson has to go in, we've got nobody else except (third-string back) John Williams," Rita said.
"We only had three running backs here, we needed four. We wanted a quality guy and we waited and waited and waited and were able to get the guy we wanted."
The 6-foot, 230-pound Hicks, who turns 30 next month, has played behind the likes of high-profiled backs in Eddie George and Stephen Davis.
It's a rarity for CFL teams to dress two import running backs because of the ratio and the fact almost all of the Americans are starters. Moreover, Avery looks to be rounding into shape following off-season knee surgery that limited his effectiveness and durability earlier in the season.
"I don't consider us competing,'' Hicks said. "I consider us playing together and helping this team.
"Obviously, we're two totally different guys. He's a real, quick, speedy guy and I'm not as small as him. I feel that we can bring a lot of stuff to the table combined.
"I'm not here to take anybody's job. I'm here to help this team win. I'm going to go out here and do as much as I can for my skills to work and score some points. I saw this as a good opportunity to get myself back in shape."
Minnis is a 6-foot-1, 170-pounder who was drafted out of Florida State by Kansas City in 2001 and caught 33 passes for 511 yards in his rookie NFL year but has done little since.