Dressler likely starter for Bombers in Regina

Winnipeg Free Press - - SPORTS - MIKE SAWATZKY mike.sawatzky@freep­ress.mb.ca Twit­ter: @sawa14

SLOT­BACK We­ston Dressler was a full par­tic­i­pant in prac­tice Wed­nes­day and is ex­pected to re­turn to the Win­nipeg Blue Bombers lineup Sun­day in Regina. Dressler has missed four games with a lower-body in­jury and is un­der­stand­ably anx­ious about be­ing side­lined.

“It never feels like you can get back soon enough any time you’re com­ing back from an in­jury,” said Dressler fol­low­ing prac­tice at In­vestors Group Field. “I would’ve liked to have been back a cou­ple of weeks ago. For­tu­nately, it wasn’t a se­ri­ous in­jury and no long-term dam­age or any­thing like that...

“It’s frus­trat­ing. I’m sure you could ask some of the guys in the locker room and they’d tell you I was get­ting a little cranky, not quite my­self the last few weeks. It’s just one of those things... The train­ers in­side did a good job with me and I do ev­ery­thing they’re telling me to do and take care of it.”

He was lead­ing the Blue Bombers with 23 catches and 342 yards when he was side­lined, and he has watched the Win­nipeg of­fence be­come more di­ver­si­fied with each pass­ing week.

“We do a great job of spread­ing the ball around,” said Dressler. “I think we need to con­tinue to do that if we want to be suc­cess­ful. For me, it’s make those plays when you have those op­por­tu­ni­ties. Whether it’s catch­ing a five-yard out for a first down and move the chains or try­ing to strike one down­field.”

Dressler is a favoured tar­get for quar­ter­back Matt Nichols.

“He’s a guy that draws a lot of at­ten­tion and he’s a dif­fer­ence-maker,” said Nichols. “I have a very good re­la­tion­ship with (him) on and off the field. There’s a lot of times where I’m com­plet­ing balls to him where I can barely see him down there but I know where he’s go­ing to be against ev­ery cov­er­age. We’re very de­tail ori­ented, I know where to ex­pect him on ev­ery cov­er­age and he’s al­ways in the right spot.”

Head coach Mike O’Shea isn’t wor­ried about dis­rupt­ing his of­fence, which has op­er­ated ef­fi­ciently dur­ing the a five-game win­ning streak.

“Not for a guy like We­ston,” said O’Shea. “He’s gotta be one of the smartest guys in the league. He’s very ac­com­plished, he’s fast, he’s ag­ile, he un­der­stands the game, he un­der­stands de­fences. He just works so well with our of­fence and with our quar­ter­back. I just en­joy hav­ing him on the field.”

CROWDED HOUSE: On Wed­nes­day, the Blue Bombers an­nounced a sell­out for the Banjo Bowl on Sept. 9. It will be the club’s first full house of the season and the sev­enth since IGF opened in 2013.

QUOTABLE: Line­backer Mo

Leggett, who had a sack, forced fum­ble and fum­ble re­cov­ery on the same play in Mon­treal Aug. 24, is en­joy­ing a pro­duc­tive season. De­spite miss­ing two games due to in­jury, he is tied with de­fen­sive line­man Jake Thomas for sec­ond on the team with three sacks, three be­hind leader Ja­maal Wester­man.

“I’m talk­ing trash to the de­fen­sive line­man,” joked Leggett. “I think I’m what, sec­ond on the team (in sacks)? I try to tell them, ‘Hey, I’m try­ing to sep­a­rate from you guys.’”

LABOUR DAY VET­ERAN: Win­nipeg de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Richie Hall has played or coached in 25 of the last 29 Labour Day Clas­sics and the event hasn’t lost any of its ex­cite­ment.

“When I think of Labour Day it re­minds me of col­lege foot­ball,” said Hall. “I love col­lege foot­ball, love col­lege sports. Just that hype and en­thu­si­asm. (We want) to weather the storm be­cause after it starts, it’s just another foot­ball game. You can’t help but get ex­cited... You want to play with emo­tion but you don’t want to main­tain that emo­tion the whole way be­cause oth­er­wise you get burned out. You’ve still gotta tackle, you still gotta block. You still gotta do the fun­da­men­tal things about foot­ball but en­joy the at­mos­phere be­cause it’s pretty spe­cial.”

BEST IN THE BUSI­NESS? Blue Bombers cor­ner­back Chris Ran­dle has been play­ing at an all-star level this season, ex­em­pli­fied by three in­ter­cep­tions in his last two games. Ran­dle, mean­while, plays it cool off the field.

“I’m just try­ing to play my role, that’s the only thing I can re­ally do,” said Ran­dle. “As long as I kept do­ing that and we keep get­ting wins, that’s all that re­ally matters.”

Hall be­lieves Ran­dle’s quiet work ethic al­lows him to fly un­der the radar.

“I think it is, ‘What doesn’t he do well?’” said Hall. “He’s very solid, he’s very con­sis­tent, he’s a true pro. He’s our leader out there. You don’t hear a lot about him but when you look out there, he’s not giv­ing up any­thing. He’s just steady, he’s not flam­boy­ant. Even when you watch him in prac­tice, he just works.”

NOTE­WOR­THY: The Bombers added Cana­dian de­fen­sive back Kahlen Bran­ning to their prac­tice roster Wed­nes­day. The club also re­leased im­port re­ceiver Gary Cham­bers and Cana­dian re­ceiver Brett Blaszko... The CFL an­nounced the top per­form­ers of the month are all Blue Bombers. Run­ning back An­drew Har­ris, Nichols and Leggett have been hon­oured after their out­stand­ing work in Au­gust. Har­ris rushed 45 times for 330 yards and caught 17 passes for 192 yards in four Win­nipeg wins. Nichols com­pleted 108 of 151 passes for 1,203 yards and seven touch­downs against only one in­ter­cep­tion. He also added eight rushes for 64 yards and another ma­jor and has a league-best QUAR rat­ing of 88. Leggett re­turned to the lineup in Week 7 and reg­is­tered 19 tack­les and three quar­ter­back sacks. Leggett also forced three fum­bles.

PHO­TOS BY MIKE DEAL / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Win­nipeg Blue Bombers re­ceiver We­ston Dressler plays catch with quar­ter­back Matt Nichols dur­ing prac­tice at In­vestors Group Field Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Bombers cor­ner­back Chris Ran­dle (8) pays at­ten­tion at prac­tice.

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