Baltimore CFLs outside linebacker Alvin Walton is close to being put on the active roster for Saturday's game in Las Vegas.
Just how close depends on Walton, who has missed Baltimore's past two games with a pulled hamstring.
"Alvin looks like he's healthy, and we're practicing him like he's going to play," coach Don Matthews said. "But he has to stand up under the rigors of practice and make sure that he's OK."
Walton said: "I'm doing fine. That's not a problem at all."
If Walton is activated, linebacker Jesse Becton would return to the practice roster. Becton started the past two games, including Thursday's 39-32 loss in Winnipeg.
Walton wouldn't necessarily move back into the starting lineup, however. Matthews may go with an extra defensive back in the beginning, which means more playing time for Matt Goodwin.
"Our scheme is evolving to that," Matthews said. "We want to get the defensive back in as much as we can. But what we have to do is hold up against the run."
That probably won't be the only change this week.
To bolster the linebacking corps, Matthews most likely will add ,, Ricky Andrews to the active roster in place of receiver Robert Clark. That would leave Baltimore with five receivers.
Bring on the strike
The CFLs would be an immediate beneficiary of a baseball strike, said owner Jim Speros.
"We'd become the only show in town," Speros said. He said the CFLs' summer schedule could fill the void left by baseball's absence.
"For fans maybe a little upset with the baseball situation this would be another opportunity for the fans to express their anger. Our fans realize our players aren't making $1 million," Speros said.
Horn joins practice roster
Receiver Joe Horn has been signed to the practice roster, taking the place of Darren Chandler, who was released. Horn, 21, played two years at Itawamba Junior College in Fulton, Miss.
"I'm hoping to get in tip-top condition and move into the offense pretty swiftly, maybe two weeks," he said.
"After that, I just want to go through the season and win the Grey Cup. But right now, I'm just focusing on learning all the plays, getting the rhythm down and running my routes correctly."
Watching and waiting
Quarterback Tracy Ham did more watching than throwing at yesterday's practice at Kirk Field. He suffered a sprain to the top of his left foot in Thursday's game and was given time to rest, but he will have a full practice today.
"All the swelling's out. Tracy's fine," Matthews said.
Protecting the passer
In Baltimore's loss to Winnipeg, the Blue Bombers protected quarterback Matt Dunigan by keeping seven players on the line. Baltimore, which had five sacks the previous week, rushed four and never got to Dunigan before he released the ball.
Matthews expects Las Vegas to use the same strategy, but not necessarily with the same results. "We're going to apply more pressure this week," he said. "If they keep in seven, we have a way to send more guys."
Fit to be tied
Isn't it supposed to be lonely at the top?
Not so for Baltimore (2-2), which is in a four-way tie for first place in the Eastern Division with Ottawa, Winnipeg and Toronto.
"I think things will start leveling off when everybody starts playing everybody. It'll sort itself out as it goes along. I don't believe there's that much parity," Matthews said.
Not that the coach is paying close attention to the standings. Not yet, anyway. "The only standings that are important are in November," he said.
Students of the game?
It will take some time before the CFLs become household names around here. As a group of players strolled to the parking lot at Kirk Field after yesterday's practice, a woman getting into her car asked which high school they were from.