Will we be calling him Pinball Spiller?

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:49 PM ET

Michael (Pinball) Clemons made his mark in the CFL in large part because he was so versatile.

He could run the ball, catch it out of the backfield, catch it from the slot and even as a wideout. He was also a dynamo returning punts and kicks.

A trio of NFL rookies will be attempting to do much the same this fall for their new employers.

In the NFL, the best present-day Pinball comparison is Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs and barring a change of heart, the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions will have a Cribbs-like player of their own to confound opposing defensive co-ordinators with this year

In Buffalo, C.J. Spiller has all the tools to be that player — speed, elusiveness, an ability to change direction on a dime. And with a backfield that already has Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson — assuming Lynch isn’t dealt before the season begins — it’s incumbent upon new head coach Chan Gailey to find a use for all these tools. That means lining him up just about everywhere in the offence outside of quarterback, tight end and obviously the line.

The same will likely go for Kansas City’s second-round pick Dexter McCluster, a running back/receiver/returner out of Ol’ Miss who looks at a similarly crowded backfield to the one Spiller sees in Buffalo.

In K.C., the duo of Jamaal Charles and ex-Jet Thomas Jones won’t need much help barring injuries — which leaves the Chiefs to rely on sets with McCluster in the slot or spread wide to get him involved.

In Detroit, Jahvid Best, the Lions’ other first-round pick (30th overall) behind defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, saw similar all-over duty to Spiller and McCluster during mini-camps — but of the three seems to have the best bet at significant time at running back.

Returning starter Kevin Smith is coming off a torn ACL and was used sparingly in mini-camp. The hope is he’ll be a full go for training camp. But even then the way the coaching staff is raving about Best, Smith might not necessarily be the team’s first choice.

Best still got work at wide receiver, slot and running back during mini-camp.

Anyone who saw Cribbs at all last season or recalls Pinball’s glory days with the Argonauts knows the game is much more exciting when the ball is in the hands of these kinds of players.

Long way to go LeBron

Art Modell may be hated in Cleveland to this day for sneaking out of town with the Browns and moving them to Baltimore, but you have to appreciate the man’s sense of humour. With LeBron-mania sweeping Ohio Thursday night, Modell was tracked down by the News-Herald. “Do I think LeBron James as he leaves Cleveland will become the most hated man in Cleveland, more hated than Art Modell?” the man himself repeated. “Nonsense. Nonsense.” ... Modell wasn’t the only NFL to chime in on Lebron’s big news. Chad Ochocinco (really, you thought he could resist?) appeared on the Dan Patrick radio show and suggested he would finish the year with two rings. A Super Bowl ring for one finger and an NBA title ring for another after he signed on with the Heat following the Super Bowl parties. Our only concern with that would be Chad’s penchant for celebrating everything with a dance. They don’t dance much in the NBA, Chad.

Don’t count him out

Brian Westbrook may be out of sight temporarily but he still has an NFL job in mind. The former Eagles running back has been working out for the past several weeks with a group of players including his brother and Washington Redskin, Byron Westbrook, Minnesota’s Visanthe Shiancoe and Arizona’s Darnell Dockett at Athletic Dominance in Maryland.

Shiancoe, who could wind up being a teammate, raved about Westbrook’s readiness.

“This is the first time he’s been able to really work out fully and not feel (his previous injuries),” Shiancoe told NFL.com.

“This is the first time where he’s not being bothered and he’s able explode and really work out and prepare. He looks really, really fluid out there.

“He looks really good. He’s getting in training-camp shape.”

Fourth and inches

Not a happy day in the Green household. Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Dennis Green’s son, Jeremy, was arrested on Friday on charges of possession of child pornography. Jeremy Green, 38, is an NFL analyst with ESPN. He’s a former NFL scout ... Signing D’Brickashaw Ferguson Thursday was a good day for the Jets, but now one day later more bad news on the Darrelle Revis front. According to the New York Daily News, Revis is now officially prepared and willing to hold out when training camp opens on August 1. He wants to become the highest-paid corner in the NFL.


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