Former Tennessee Titans receiver Tyrone Calico is attempting to revive his pro football career north of the border.
Calico leaves Wednesday for Canadian Football League training camp with the Calgary Stampeders after signing a one-year deal with an option for 2009 with the club.
Calico, 27, was Tennessee’s second-round draft choice from Middle Tennessee in 2003 and displayed a rare combination of speed (4.34 time at the NFL Combine) and size (6-4, 220) that the Titans hoped would allow him to blossom into stardom.
He was inconsistent as a rookie, but still caught 18 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns. He appeared to be coming into his own the following preseason, but injured both knees in a visit to Dallas when Cowboys safety Roy Williams used a horse-collar tackle (since outlawed by the NFL) to tackle him from behind.
Calico underwent surgery, then re-injured one of the knees against San Diego and missed the remainder of the season, undergoing surgery on both knees.
Calico came back in 2005, but was not as effective, catching 22 passes for 191 yards and no scores in 12 games. He was released in training camp the following summer after his health issues lingered and has not played football since, though he has had several tryouts.
“My knee is fine right now. It’s real good,” Calico said after the knee played a role in preventing other NFL teams from signing him. “I just needed to take some time to get myself right. I went to the same strength coach I had in college because he got my knee right there.”
Calico is the fifth receiver with NFL experience to land in Canada this summer as David Boston, Charles Rogers, Bethel Johnson and now former first overall pick Peter Warrick have all landed north of the border in trying to resurrect their NFL careers.
“Basically, I still have a love for the game and I’m sure it’s the same with a lot of these other guys,” Calico said. “I know Charles Rogers got hurt two or three years in a row, and I know P-Dub (Warrick) still has something left.”
Asked if he views the CFL as a stepping stone back to the NFL, Calico said, “Hopefully, that can happen. But if not, we’ll just see how far we can take it here.”
Either way, the Stampeders see the same things the Titans saw in Calico when they selected him five years ago.
“Tyrone has the physical skills to be a good player in our league,” said Stampeders head coach/general manager John Hufnagel said on the club’s official web site. “He has speed, size and big-play potential.”
Calico last month had a DUI case in Nashville bound over to a grand jury.