Miller proves quick study in new, unplanned role

CFL NOTEBOOK

November 12, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

In the spring, the last thing on Josh Miller's mind was playing football.

"I was running between Los Angeles and Arizona, trying to get work as an actor, doing commercials and auditioning as a sportscaster," Miller said

But a call from Baltimore CFLs player personnel director Jim Popp changed all that.

"Popp asked me if I was still in shape to kick a football," said Miller. "I told him I was ready. For me, it was a chance to make a couple of dollars until something else happened."

What happened was that Miller became the league's top punter, averaging 42.9 yards and 36.9 (net).

"It's amazing how some things happen," said Miller, a New Jersey native who was a kicking specialist at Arizona.

"The way I was kicking early in the season, there was a good chance I'd be cut. I was really pressing. I had to learn to relax."

Miller improved as the season progressed. At Hamilton, on Aug. 25, five of his punts were more than 50 yards. But Miller, 24, has not abandoned his dream of becoming a soap opera star, or, the next-best thing, a TV sportscaster.

"I've been doing some work for ESPN2, interviewing my teammates. I look for the good talkers," he said with a laugh.

Down to decimals

The CFLs' Lester Smith won the CFL punt return title by .01 over Calgary's Pee Wee Smith, averaging 11.41 on 51 returns.

"I didn't even know I won it," said Smith, a rookie from The #F Citadel who was signed as a free agent. "This is just a bonus. Back in July, I was just happy to make this team as a reserve defensive back."

In addition to returning kicks, Smith has filled in at free safety and on special teams, making 19 tackles.

Guessing game

Coach Don Matthews said Ken Benson and Alvin Walton will split time at linebacker, filling in for Malcolm Goodwin, who suffered a neck injury against Sacramento last week and faces disk surgery. But Matthews did not name a starter, saying it was up to his defensive coaches.

Benson, who led the CFL in tackles last year, missed the season's first 13 games with a broken leg.

The rest of the injury report for the CFLs: running back Mike Pringle (groin) has been moved to the reserve list; offensive guard Keith Ballard (broken leg) is out; quarterback Tracy Ham (elbow), linebacker Matt Goodwin (thigh) and center Nick Subis (knee) will play. For Toronto, slotback Jeff Fairholm (knee) is out.

The roster changes: Baltimore -- RE Grant Carter replaced Pringle, WR Robert Clark replaced WR Mike Alexander, LB Brad Clark replaced LB Malcolm Goodwin, OG Marc Borrelli replaced Ballard. Toronto -- DL Leon Hatziioannou, DB Kevin Whitley, QB Mike Kerrigan and SB Rob Crifo are activated; WR Paul Cranmer and WR Darrick Branch are deactivated.

Changing outfit, not tune

The Baltimore Colts marching band will perform their pre-game show in the familiar blue-and-white uniforms they have worn since 1979. One of those uniforms will be sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

At halftime, the band will wear new uniforms purchased for $45,000 by CFL owner James Speros.

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