Toronto Argonauts running back Ricky Williams plans to rejoin teammates on the practice field following their upcoming bye week with hopes of returning to the lineup against the Calgary Stampeders on Sept. 23, two months and a day after he broke his arm during a game in Regina.
The 29-year-old suspended National Football League player has been forced to the sidelines since that game, when he fractured the radius in his left forearm while trying to regain his balance on a running play against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Williams has remained in Canada during his time off and became a father again on Wednesday, when his fiancee gave birth to a girl in Toronto.
He denied getting the itch to play yesterday, even as he stood by in civilian clothes while the Argos prepared for today's meeting with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Rogers Centre.
"I don't itch, I don't get bored," he said. "I just try to live in the moment."
Williams was banished from the 2006 NFL season when he lost the appeal on his fourth failed drug test in the spring. He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement on April 26.
He will not, however, require the blessing of his NFL team, the Miami Dolphins, to resume playing in the Canadian Football League this fall.
"He is a Toronto Argonaut for the season, and when he was initially hurt, the Argos did consult with the Dolphins trainer," Williams' agent, Leigh Steinberg, said yesterday. "We do informally keep the Dolphins up to date on what's happening with Ricky, but it's the Argo doctors and training staff that are monitoring his situation."
There is a chance Williams could be used in tandem with running back John Avery (foot) when both return to health, potentially in time for the game in Calgary. Both players are on the injured list for today's game against Hamilton.
Toronto players are expected to get the week off after playing the Ticats.
"One of the reasons that we were comfortable making the commitment to Toronto in the first place was the value system of the owners and the front office and the coaching staff, in having a balanced approach towards life and treating the players well," Steinberg said. "So we're comfortable that they will make decisions based on the long-term interests of Ricky's health as well as their season."