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Starter after a week on the job


Seven days ago, William King was scrambling for a job on Baltimore's Canadian Football League team.

He not only got the job over the weekend, but was named a starter -- at a position he only played a week.

"It's all coming fast," King said after the CFL expansion team established its first 37-man roster with a series of moves yesterday. "I expected to be on the practice roster."

That was when King, undersized at 5 feet 10 and 211 pounds, was still an outside linebacker, trying to beat the odds at one of the team's toughest positions. Last Monday, he was moved from linebacker to rush end to enhance his value to the team and to shore up a position hurt by the injury loss of Ken Benson.

He played well enough in Thursday's 45-43 overtime victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to win the starting right end job going into Thursday's season opener against the Toronto Argonauts at SkyDome.

Coach Don Matthews reinforced the decision by cutting veteran Lorenza Baker.

"We're very comfortable [with King]; that's why we did it," Matthews said. "Aside from O. J. Brigance, he was the best [rush end] in the game."

A product of Marshall University, where he was Southern Conference Player of the Year in 1993, King knows there are no guarantees with the job. "I'm going to keep trying to do what got me here -- go all out," he said. "It's unbelievable. I'm trying to keep it all in perspective."

King is one of four players to make Baltimore's roster right out of college. The others are wide-out Shannon Culver, middle linebacker Melendez Byrd and safety Lester Smith, all of whom will be reserves.

There were 11 CFL veterans on the roster announced yesterday, and eight are starters.

After five weeks of training camp and a 2-0 preseason, Matthews said the team had passed its first test.

"It looks good now," he said. "Now we have to go out and make it work."

Matthews will field a 37-man active roster instead of 36, as he previously had planned. He restructured the contract of Shawn Jones to keep him on the roster as the third quarterback and keep the team under the CFL's $1.9 million salary cap. Jones will work behind marquee player Tracy Ham and backup John Congemi.

In trimming the roster to 36, the team left one spot open for either Maryland guard O'Neill Glenn or Towson State tackle Karl Nieberlein.

Glenn, hampered by a strained Achilles' tendon, will go on the roster if he is healthy. Otherwise, Nieberlein -- another player right out of college -- will be activated for Thursday's opener. Both players were waived and agreed to non-binding practice squad contracts.

In other roster moves, the team:

* Cut three more players -- outside linebacker Jesse Becton, cornerback Kwame Smith and slotback Jim Guarantano. All three signed contracts and were added to the practice roster.

* Added guard Diego London, cut Friday, and defensive back Horace Smith, a no-show in training camp because of illness in his family, to the practice roster.

* Placed Benson on injured reserve with a broken right fibula. He must remain on IR for four weeks and isn't expected back for eight to 10.

NOTES: Sheldon Canley will start at running back ahead of Mike Pringle. At wide-out, Baltimore native Walter Wilson beat out Culver for the spot opposite Joe Washington. Culver will return punts. At slot back, Chris Armstrong beat out Shawn Beals to join B. K. Williams on the first team. . . . Congemi said there was no damage to his spine from two overtime hits he took in the back in Thursday's game. He practiced yesterday and said he'll be ready to play in Toronto.

On defense, the Goodwin twins -- rush end Malcolm and halfback Matt -- made the roster as backups. "We came in with the idea of playing together," said Malcolm. . . . Defensive tackle Tom Fuhler will be an emergency guard on offense and changed from jersey number 96 to 67 to comply with offensive line numbering.


Coming in tomorrow's Sun and Evening Sun: a special preview section devoted to Baltimore's CFL team. Included will be a capsule look at the players on Baltimore's roster and an explanation of some of the rules differences between the CFL and NFL.

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