The accolades keep coming for Baltimore Stallions rookie Chris Wright. Yesterday, just a day after he was nominated for Canadian Football League South Division Rookie of the Year honors, Wright learned he had won his second straight CFL Offensive Player of the Week award.
Wright, the league's most electrifying kick returner and an apparent shoo-in for its Rookie of the Year honor, rolled up 176 return yards in last week's 28-26 victory over British Columbia.
He tied two CFL records in that game, both set by Edmonton's Gizmo Williams. Wright enjoyed his fifth 100-yard return game and increased his league-high return yardage total to 2,202. Wright will break one record, and possibly both, in Sunday's regular-season finale against visiting Hamilton.
"It just goes to show you that hard work pays off, and it's good to have teammates who believe in you," said Wright.
Wright has learned a little about himself this year. After an outstanding career as a kick returner at Georgia Southern, he is about to play in the 18th game of his first professional season. By the time the Stallions conclude their season next month, Wright will have played the equivalent of two football seasons -- every rookie's adjustment in the CFL.
"Around the 10th game, I was pretty banged up and feeling sorry for myself," Wright said. "I was mentally tired and I got a little complacent. Tracy [Ham, quarterback] talked to me about what I needed to do.
"Now, I feel good. It's time to determine if we're champions, and I want to make myself and my teammates proud. I've never been a champion before."
Pringle rushes toward title
Mike Pringle will be the CFL's rushing champion for the second season in a row, regardless of what he does against Hamilton.
And Pringle will not be doing much, since Baltimore coach Don Matthews is activating rookie Louis Fite off the practice roster for Sunday's game. Matthews' plan is to play Pringle for the Stallions' first two offensive series, then remove him for Fite.
"I'm definitely disappointed, but I can only control things when I'm out on the football field," said Pringle, who leads the league in rushing yards (1,763) and yards from scrimmage (2,039) and is second in all-purpose yards (2,359). He is a good bet to win the league's Most Outstanding Player Award.
Matthews plans to make some changes in the receiving corps for Sunday's game by activating rookie slotback Mike Cook, who returns after missing six weeks with a knee injury. Slotback Chris Armstrong will move to wide receiver, and Wright probably will serve as a backup, since Fite's activation gives Baltimore one more running back than normal.
The odd man out is Shannon Culver, who has started 15 of the 16 games in which he has played, but is destined for the practice roster for Sunday's game.
Matthews also suspended rookie linebacker Jason Bryant from Sunday's game. Bryant was ejected from last week's victory after fighting with a Lions player. Bryant will go to the practice roster, but return for the playoffs.