The Baltimore CFL Colts yesterday picked up injury insurance at quarterback and a prototypical running back for the wide-open Canadian Football League offense.
The quarterback is former Pitt standout John Congemi, a six-year CFL veteran backup.
The running back is Sheldon Canley, a versatile 5-foot-9, 210-pound runner/receiver who played for the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants in the NFL.
Congemi and Canley were among four players whose signings were announced by the club. Also signed were former West RTC Virginia cornerback Kwame Smith and former Texas A&M linebacker Otis Nealy.
Congemi, who will turn 30 in June, gives the Colts experience at quarterback if starter and marquee player Tracy Ham were injured. Congemi will compete with Bobby Goodman of Virginia for the backup job.
"If anything were to happen to Tracy, at least we've got a veteran," said Jim Popp, the Colts' director of player personnel. "He's like a coach. He understands the game."
In six CFL seasons, Congemi has thrown for 5,658 yards, 28 touchdowns and 42 interceptions. Five of his years were spent with the Toronto Argonauts, who released him last season. He played for Colts coach Don Matthews in 1990 in Toronto.
Canley, 26 next month, was the Big West Player of the Year and third-team All-American for San Jose State in 1989. After failing to stick with the 49ers or Giants, he "wants to be someplace he can playregularly," Popp said. "He's the prototype running back [for] the CFL."
Smith, who was in the Miami Dolphins' camp last season, is a good bump-and-run cornerback with 4.38 speed in the 40-yard --, Popp said.
At 6-0 and 220 pounds, Nealy is undersized for an NFL linebacker. "Athletically, he's as good as there is," said Popp. "He was overshadowed at A&M by Quentin Coryatt."
NOTES: Colts owner Jim Speros said he's considering Goucher College in Towson and Western Maryland College in Westminster as possible training camp sites. . . . The Colts will charge a registration fee of $25 per player for Sunday's open tryout at Johns Hopkins. The team also announced a time change for the workout, which will run from noon until 6 p.m.