Ricky Williams had an embarrassing first night as a CFL player, albeit in an exhibition game.
Ricky Williams looked less like an NFL rushing champion and every bit like a running back less than a week into training camp with a new team. The suspended Miami Dolphins running back was held to seven yards on four carries in his first CFL game Friday night as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the Toronto Argonauts 31-3 in the exhibition opener for both clubs.
“The biggest thing was to see the game, to see the speed of the game and get a feel of what’s going to be expected of me,” Williams said. “It’s hard to do it in a meeting room or the practice field but when you come out here at game speed you have a better idea. “I did a decent job on pass protection. Obviously I didn’t have that many yards running the ball but I felt pretty good about my performance. It felt good, it felt natural. I wasn’t nervous, I felt comfortable with the offense.”
Williams, a four-time 1,000-yard rusher in the NFL, had four practices to get acclimated with Canadian football, yet, judging by the hundreds of Miami jerseys featuring Williams’ No. 34 present at Rogers Centre, it was clear who many had come to see. But they had to wait, as veteran John Avery started at tailback. An ovation erupted midway through the first when Williams, who is wearing No. 27 with Toronto, was shown on the Jumbotron patiently waiting his turn.
Williams quietly slipped into the game with 5 seconds left in the first and the Argos at their 35-yard line trailing 14-0. Predictably, Williams got the ball on his first play from scrimmage, resulting in a 2-yard gain, but it wasn’t until the PA announcer called Williams as the ball carrier that the Heisman Trophy winner received a rousing ovation. “It’s hard to tell with just one quarter of play, but they came ready to play,” Williams said when asked about the level of competition in the CFL. “It’s a team sport and one player isn’t going to make much of a difference unless he’s able to help everyone else raise their level of play and match the opponents’ intensity.”
But Williams liked being able to go into motion before the snap, something he has never been able to do in the NFL. “It’s fun because you get a head start on the defense and they don’t know where you’re going,” he said. “It’s just learning the game so you can take advantage of it more and I’m sure that will come.”
I suspect he’ll do just fine, barring injury. Or too much weed.
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