But, in all honesty, that Achilles is still an issue. It might be good. But it's not great. It’s still a work in progress and, well, who knows whether it will ever again allow him to be a 1,000-yard receiver. “In the morning I get up I still feel it a bit but I get my treatment ... I got to do extra warming up. In the off-season I’ll go to a doctor and see what’s really going on. I’ll have more time to take care of it. I’ve been asking a lot of my Achilles.”
That’s as close as he’ll come to suggesting he is not the receiver he once was — an all-star. A go-to guy. Everything he hasn’t been since coming off the injury list.
He has played five games after missing all of training camp and the first half of the season. His biggest game came against Hamilton; three catches for 66 yards. He has 10 receptions. All season. That used to be a pretty good day’s work.
But, if others don’t believe, Rambo certainly does.
Just ask him if he’s still the receiver he was in Calgary. “I feel like I am! Look at numbers! Who is looking at numbers!” he says. There is incredulity in his voice. He looks like someone who just stuck his finger in a light socket. “You can’t look at numbers. What numbers you looking at! I just got on the team. I just started playing four weeks ago. You can’t look at numbers. This man has been injured.
“You look at numbers when I got a full season. You look at numbers when I had a five-week (layoff) in 2010, then came back and had 1,200 yards. You can look at those numbers.”
And, there is the rub. People will look at those numbers. And, they wonder — even if he doesn’t — whether he can ever come close again. “I guess you wonder,” he says, laughing, “I don’t wonder.”
Riggs, meantime, has a shorter history on which to fall back. There is no football archive to cushion the uncertainty. There are only brief stints with Miami, Chicago and Detroit in the NFL. He was out of football much of the past two seasons, attending training camp with the Argos last season, only to be one of the final cuts after hyperextending his knee.
He was released again this year, only to be resigned when Cory Boyd was let go. So, it was a pretty big deal when he got to start the past two games after No. 1 tailback Chad Kackert bashed up his ribs. “Considering I haven’t played in a couple years, I did pretty good, I think. Considering my situation, well, most guys out here don’t have that anchor hanging on them,” he said Tuesday, of his gameday inactivity.
In three games he has run for 39, 56, and last week 13 yards against Montreal. But Kackert is expected to return this week. That puts Riggs back in football purgatory.
It is somewhat of a
Catch 22 situation. He says he needs to play to show his worth; management wants him to show his worth to play. “I’m a gamer ... the kind of guy who gets better the more I play,” Riggs says. “I know there’s things I have to work on. But a lot of that comes from experience; from playing.”
But he is not playing.
Football, at least the CFL variety, is a game where a love for the sport often goes unrequited.
It is a game where every ounce of sweat, every bruise, every broken bone and heart is noted. Briefly. Then forgotten.
Players come, they tell of their dreams and hopes. A few are realized. And, then, just as quickly they disappear — their footprints in history become a few lines in the annual media guide.
Riggs and Rambo come from different backgrounds, different experiences. The one looks into the future with a grin and a sense that he can spit into eye of Father Time; Riggs seems much more ambivalent, perhaps wondering if fate will ever be a kinder companion. But they do have one thing in common. Both cling to a faith that the game has not passed them by.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” says Riggs, when it is suggested that Kackert will start Friday against Winnipeg. “I just come out here and keep working. Whatever happens ... whether it’s here or somewhere else, I don’t believe I’m done.”
HELP ON THE WAY
Quarterback Ricky Ray and running back Chad Kackert returned Tuesday to take some repetitions as the Argonauts went through walk-throughs.
It is just one more indication that Ray has recovered sufficiently from a knee injury and will play Friday when the Blue Bombers visit.
“I’m very hopeful that he (Ray) can give it go. He’ll give it a shot in practice (Wednesday) and then we’ll see,” said head coach Scott Milanovich. “He’s done some drills but he hasn’t done many team (drills). Until he does that and tries to react like he would in a game I don’t think he’ll know (if he can play).”
Kackert, meantime, has recovered from bruised ribs and will return after missing two games.
Defensively, the club released halfback T.J. Williams, essentially leaving the job to Ahmad Carroll for the remainder of the season.
Carroll won defensive player of the week honours and had interceptions in three consecutive starts earlier this season. But he also drew the ire of the coaching staff when undisciplined play resulted in some key penalties.