Baltimore signs leading sacker of 1993

CFL NOTEBOOK

August 20, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

After talking contract with almost every team in the Canadian Football League this past week, rush end Elfrid Payton signed a one-year contract plus an option with the Baltimore CFLs yesterday.

Coach Don Matthews expects Payton, who led the CFL in sacks with 23 last season, to start against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats next Saturday.

"I'm looking forward to playing for a title contender," said Payton, a free agent who was released by Shreveport last week after only one sack in five games.

Payton also anticipates playing alongside O. J. Brigance and Jearld Baylis, two of the CFL's top defensive linemen.

"It will take a lot of pressure off me," said Payton, a defensive force for three years in Winnipeg before moving to Shreveport this season. "I won't have to be the man anymore. Together, the three of us can do a lot of damage."

Asked to explain his decline in sacks, Payton said, "[The Pirates] wanted me to do a lot of things besides rushing the quarterback. It was a defensive system I wasn't comfortable with."

Said Matthews: "We weren't that concerned about how many sacks Payton had this season. We watched him on film, and he was doing an excellent job applying pressure. You can't teach a player to be a pass rusher. Payton is just one of those guys who has good quickness and knows how to beat the man in front of him."

Payton and his agent, Doran Major, sifted through all the offers and narrowed the field to Las Vegas and Baltimore.

"It really came down to wanting to stay in the East, closer to my home in New Orleans," Payton said. "That, and getting a call from [Baltimore quarterback] Tracy Ham. That showed they really wanted me here."

King returns

Rush end William King, who left Baltimore two weeks ago to settle some family matters back home in Charleston, W.Va., returned to practice yesterday and told Matthews he was ready to play.

"Playing pro football has always been my dream," said King, "and, after talking things over with my whole family, I decided the problems back home will have to take care of themselves. I also put going back to school [Marshall University] on hold. I need to be here with the team."

King, who started the first four games, said he found Matthews unusually understanding in welcoming him back.

"Most coaches, if you leave, you can't come back," said King, who started the first four games. "But he's going to let me work my way back from the practice squad."

Said Matthews: "King is still on our suspension list. I told both William and his agent, once he worked out his personal problems, we could go from there. He's not being punished, but our situation has changed since his absence."

Since King's departure, Matthews has started Malcolm Goodwin for two games at rush end. This week it will be Earnest Fields, shifted from middle linebacker.

Injury update

Ricky Andrews, who started the last two weeks at middle linebacker, was experiencing back spasms and sat out his second straight practice. "I'm just resting it now," said Andrews. If I'm able to play, I will. And right now, I expect to start." Leading ground gainer Mike Pringle, who underwent arthroscopic surgery his left knee last week, was declared "100 percent" fit and reported that his knee felt stronger than before the operation.

Defensive tackle Robert Presbury had three screws placed in his broken right thumb and is expected to start.

Mad hatters

As is the custom every Friday, the CFLs were allowed to wear any headgear of their choosing at practice.

"This team takes being relaxed to another level," said Matthews.

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