[CFL] Argos sign Ricky Williams to 1yr deal

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Running back Ricky Williams put on an Argos jersey at the team's practice today after signing a one-year contract yesterday.

Argo Ricky struts his stuff

May 29, 2006. 03:48 PM



It didn't take long for Ricky Williams to show why the Toronto Argonauts went through three hectic weeks trying to sign the suspended Miami Dolphins running back.

At 8:40 a.m. today, the controversial 29-year-old running back walked onto the field wearing the dark blue practice jersey of the Argos' offence, bearing No. 27 rather than the 34 he wore with the Dolphins.

Less than an hour later, when the preliminary callisthenics were completed, Williams touched the striped CFL ball for the first time as he took turns with the team's six other running backs accepting hand-offs and short pitchouts.

But it was when the running backs moved up the field to join the offensive and defensive lines to work on the inside running game that Williams displayed his enormous skills that allowed him to rush for 1,000 yards four times during his six seasons in the NFL.

One play in particular stood out. Taking the ball from quarterback Damon Allen, Williams swung to the left and, spotting a little daylight between the crashing bodies of the linemen, he cut through the narrow opening with a dazzling burst of speed.

It was a display of just how talented a player the Argos have on their hands.

The Argos placed Williams on their negotiation list in April after he was banned from playing in the 2006 NFL after he failed a drug test for the fourth time.

Consent from the Dolphins club to play north of the border finally arrived yesterday afternoon and the Argos wasted no time getting Williams' signature on a one-year contract that will pay him $240,000 (Canadian) before he heads back to Miami for the 2007 NFL season.

He has admitted to using marijuana in the past, but the suggestion is that his latest failure was the result of taking an herbal concoction connected with his involvement in yoga.

He said he has not used marijuana in over a year and has vowed to urge youth not to use the drug as part of his agreement with the Argos.

After practice today, Williams diplomatically handled questions about the talent level between the CFL and NFL as he was mobbed by a gaggle of media personnel after the two-hour session at the Argos' Mississauga facilities.

"The talent here is comparable to the talent in the NFL," he said. "It's just a matter of consistency. From what I saw out there these guys can run, can hit and they know what they're doing."

As for the differences between the Canadian and American versions of the game, he replied: "football is football."

"There's a couple of differences, but for the most part it's the same. It's just a matter of terminology."

Asked how he felt physically after his initial workout in the stifling heat Williams answered: "I made it. I survived so I guess I'm okay."

Most of those watching appeared to feel the same way.


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this will be interesting. i hope he struggles :p

Ricky Williams's CFL debut: 4 carries, 7 yards


From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Let it be shown that the Ricky Williams era began in a way that might not have been expected, given all the hype.

The 29-year-old was just part of the crowd as he ran out of the tunnel with his new Toronto Argonauts teammates to start the latest chapter of his football life.

One of the highest-profile signings in Canadian Football League history, the former Miami Dolphins star has said since being signed on Sunday that he just wanted to fit in with his teammates.

And given that the Argonauts ranked eighth in the then-nine-team CFL in rushing in 2005, he did a good job of that.

His output for the night was more pedestrian than potent: Four carries for seven yards in a single quarter of play, and not a glimpse of the form that saw him lead the National Football League in rushing in 2002.

Williams said he wasn't expecting much more, given he stepped on a CFL field only four days ago.

?I think I did a pretty good job,? he said. ?I didn't forget any plays, I did a pretty good job in pass protection. Obviously, I didn't run for a lot of yards, but I was pleased with my performance.?

The Argonauts as a whole were unremarkable last night, as Hamilton completely outplayed them en route to a 31-3 victory. Elsewhere, the Montreal Alouettes edged the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 25-24 and the B.C. Lions played host to the Calgary Stampeders.

Williams's highly-anticipated first CFL carry took place with five seconds left in the first quarter, and the Argonauts starting on their own 35-yard line, trailing 14-0.

He took the ball from quarterback Damon Allen and started right, cut back left but barely managed to get past scrimmage as he picked up only two yards on the play, leading to a Toronto punt.

First touch jitters? Apparently not. ?I wasn't nervous, this wasn't something I was dreading,? Williams said. ?This is part of the process.?

Williams didn't get the ball at all on the second series ? though he was used in a first-down, play-action sequence that drew some attention ? but the Argonauts ended up punting that time too.

?It's good he didn't do anything spectacular,? Argonauts head coach Michael Clemons said. ?Not that he shies from hard work, but it shows that he'll have to work as hard as he has in his career here.

?He ran, he learned some things, but he was a very average back today, based on his carries.?

The unintended benefit of Williams's late start was that by the time he took the field the haze inside the Rogers Centre, left over from the pregame fireworks, had mostly cleared.

Given the investment ? financial and otherwise ? the Argonauts have made in Williams, who was caught for marijuana use three times during his NFL days, it's likely the club hopes it's the last time Williams is anywhere near a cloud of smoke.

But the Argonauts didn't shy away from the controversy the Williams signing generated. Instead, they chose to milk it for effect.

A clip from an interview with former Argos quarterback and current NFL commentator Joe Theismann, in which he said he was ?embarrassed to have worn the ?A' on the side of my helmet? after Williams signed, was played. It was followed by a graphic showing the Argos' old A logo being erased from a picture of Theismann in his CFL days. And the punch line: ?Happy now, Joe??

On his third series as an Argonaut, Williams got the ball on first down again. This time, he opted to take the ball wide right, but the Tiger-Cats defence easily strung that out before safety Wayne Shaw wrestled him out of bounds after three yards.

Williams's first chance to make an impact came with Toronto facing a second-and-two situation at the Hamilton 40-yard line. Once more, Williams was easily wrapped up by a solo tackler as Tim Cheatwood threw him for a one-yard loss.

The story on his next carry ? his last for the game ? was no different. Once again he sprinted wide right, only to be run down by the Tiger-Cats' Renard Cox, who was undeterred by a Williams stiff-arm.

?The biggest thing was seeing the speed of the game,? said Williams, who was the focus of a throng of autograph seekers, several wearing Dolphins jerseys, after the game. ?It's hard to do that in a meeting room.?

The Argos have a lot riding on Williams, who was suspended by the NFL for the entire 2006 season after a fourth positive drug test. But Clemons said one quarter of work in an exhibition game is hardly something to worry about.

?It's about what I expected,? the coach said, adding he hadn't decided if Williams would play in Hamilton on Friday. ?He got a couple of touches, but a running back like him, it's not his first three or four touches that make the difference, it's the 10 he gets in the fourth quarter that make the difference.?


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