Pringle doubtful for CFLs

November 11, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

Mike Pringle's strained groin muscle figures to make reserve running back Robert Drummond a very busy man tomorrow.

Baltimore coach Don Matthews has downgraded Pringle's availability from questionable to doubtful for the Canadian Football League playoff game against the Toronto Argonauts at Memorial Stadium.

Pringle, who started the last 17 games for the 12-6 CFLs -- breaking the league rushing record in the process -- pulled himself out of drills as a precautionary measure yesterday when he felt a twinge in his groin muscle.

If he is unable to play in the Eastern Division semifinal, Pringle will be replaced by Drummond, who has yet to carry the ball from scrimmage in a game for the CFLs.

The team also learned that linebacker Malcolm Goodwin is out the rest of the season with a neck injury that will require surgery.

Testing his groin muscle in practice for the first time this week, Pringle hit a snag going out for a pass in the team's no-huddle drill.

"He had trouble turning to catch a ball on a pass route," Matthews said.

Pringle took himself out right after that play.

"I went up for the ball, turned my body and felt a twinge in the groin," he said. "I wanted to practice so I could see what I could and could not do. I felt good while practicing."

Despite the twinge and his abbreviated workout, Pringle did not rule himself out of the game.

"I want to play," he said. "Basically, it's a wait-and-see type thing. I feel better this week than I did last week."

Pringle suffered the strain two weeks ago against Winnipeg, but played last Saturday in Sacramento, rushing 12 times for 71 yards.

He led the CFL with 1,972 rushing yards this season and was voted the Eastern representative for the league's Most Outstanding Player Award.

Until now, Drummond, 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds, has been used exclusively as a receiver and blocker. Playing behind Peter Tuipulotu at fullback, he has caught nine passes for 149 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown against the B.C. Lions.

Drummond was signed as a free agent on Sept. 4 after he failed to get a tryout in the NFL. He was drafted out of Syracuse in the third round in 1989 by the Philadelphia Eagles. In 20 games over the next two seasons, he rushed for 160 yards and caught 20 passes for 219 yards.

At Syracuse, he was used as both a running back and receiver. He rushed for 2,164 career yards.

"Ever since high school, I've been a very versatile back," Drummond said. "This [running the ball] is nothing that's new to me."

Drummond got practice time at running back last week and this week while Pringle rested.

"If Mike can go, he'll go," Drummond said. "I've been through playoff games, though. It's a new level. I see myself doing anything that helps the team get to the Grey Cup."

If Pringle is out, Drummond will get the start ahead of Sheldon Canley, who had been Pringle's backup.

Matthews said Drummond "gives us a better opportunity to win."

The offense lost guard Keith Ballard to a broken leg in last week's 18-0 loss at Sacramento. He'll be replaced by Guy Earle.

Goodwin was injured on a goal-line stand late in the same game. He stopped running back Tony Burse at the 1 with a head-on collision and was carried from the field on a stretcher with numbness in his left arm.

An MRI showed that he has a protruding disk. "It's putting pressure on my spinal cord," Goodwin said. "It was from many collisions, but that one sent up the red flag."

He will have surgery, perhaps as early as next week, to remove the disk and fuse bone from his hip between the fifth and sixth vertebrae.

Goodwin said the injury is not career-threatening, and he expects to return next season.

"You play hard and when something like this happens, you're just glad you can get better and come back," he said.

Matthews said Ken Benson and Alvin Walton will split time at Goodwin's position. Benson, expected to start, has played five games since returning Oct. 7 and has 15 tackles.

He will face his old team -- the Argos -- for the first time since signing as a free agent with Baltimore.

"The playoffs are what make this special, not the Argos," Benson said. "But I guess it will be kind of fun to get to play them."

Brad Clark will take Goodwin's roster spot.

CFL PLAYOFFS

TOMORROW

Toronto at Baltimore, 4 p.m.

B.C. at Edmonton, 4 p.m.

SUNDAY

Ottawa at Winnipeg, 3 p.m.

Saskatchewan at Calgary, 3 p.m.

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