Run back in vogue

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

It was a friendly wager made prior to the 2006 CFL season and Argos offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto used a little inside information to help the cause.

Taking advantage of a diehard Miami Dolphins fan, Buratto bet that Ricky Williams would not top 1,200 rushing yards and that Calgary back Joffrey Reynolds would out-gain him.

"I didn't base that on any knock on Ricky, just that I knew Kent Austin," Buratto said of his predecessor with the Argos. "Kent is a good football man, but he wants to throw it. Some guys have the concept that a running play is a wasted down."

That concept, among others, is one of the first things Buratto is junking in his tenure with the Boatmen.

Forced inside for training camp because of a water-logged field in Mississauga, the players got a big taste of it yesterday. Much of the double practice session at the Oakville Sports Dome was spent hammering away at the run game.

Led by a healthy John Avery, Buratto is determined to add balance to what was a generally woeful Argos attack.

"We're gonna run the ball and we're gonna become good at it," Buratto said. "Early on, maybe not, but we're not going to abandon the attempts. We're going to keep pounding."

What a concept for a team that truly has not had a strong ground game since Michael Jenkins captured the league rushing title in 2001.

Buratto, who was the offensive coordinator in Calgary last season, had the luxury of Reynolds lugging the ball, which he did for 1,541 years. Avery (432 yards) and Williams (526) together couldn't crack 1,000 as the Argos run game trailed only the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in league totals.

Should Avery stay healthy -- which has been a problem recently -- the veteran is expected to be the feature back. Canadian Jeff Johnson will get serious consideration for two-back formations and the remainder of training camp will sort out the rest.

Six others, including former NFLer Jemel White, are hoping they'll show Buratto enough to help him prove his point.

"It's been quite a learning curve with all the different terminology and everybody moving around," White said. "I just have to be prepared in practice and get my chance in a full-blown game to show them what I can do."

PARKER HURT

Star cornerback Byron Parker left practice early yesterday with what was believed to be a minor injury. Parker was sent to a team doctor as a precaution.


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