Dressler likely starter for Bombers in Regina
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.
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.