Blue land two mas­ter crafts­men

Smith and We­ston might turn out to be more deadly than Smith and Wes­son

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - SPORTS - By Scott Bil­leck

IT t ook one rep at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ offensive mini­camp in late April for head coach Mike O’Shea to ver­ify why the team went af­ter two of the league’s top re­ceivers in the off-sea­son.

We­ston Dressler and Ryan Smith prac­tised like they were in mid-sea­son, like there was a mean­ing­ful game on the hori­zon.

“They’re ex­tremely O’Shea said, not­ing he caught Dressler in the film room late one night, re­view­ing plays on his own. “They’re go­ing to lead that way. They’re go­ing to make sure guys are do­ing the right thing. There are all these in­tan­gi­bles be­side the fact they’re both ex­tremely fast, very smart foot­ball play­ers — highly com­pet­i­tive guys. I don’t know any other word to sum it up.”

For fans of the team, su­perla­tives aside, what hap­pens on the field will mat­ter most from a team go­ing into its 26th year of Grey Cup drought.

The good news, then, is pro­duc­tion from ei­ther player — the wily vet Dressler, or the younger Smith — has never been an is­sue.

The duo’s num­bers for the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers in 2015 in some cases com­bined to be half or more of what all Bombers re­ceivers posted.

Dressler and Smith com­bined for 13 re­ceiv­ing touch­downs, six and seven, re­spec­tively. The Bombers had 19, split be­tween eight play­ers. The duo com­bined for more than 1,900 yards re­ceiv­ing; the Bombers had just more than 4,100. pro­fes­sional,”

‘I’m go­ing to work hard, out­work my op­po­nent and play fast and re­lent­less, that’s what I’ve been taught my whole life’

Both are look­ing to build off near-1,000-yard sea­sons.

“I’m go­ing to work hard, out­work my op­po­nent and play fast and re­lent­less, that’s what I’ve been taught my whole life,” Smith said. “It was just the way I was taught. When I was in col­lege, in high school, you can only get bet­ter if you try harder.”

Dressler car­ries nine years of CFL ex­pe­ri­ence and wis­dom, both of which he hopes to im­part on a team of young re­ceiv­ing hope­fuls.

“Hope­fully I can help a lot of the younger guys un­der­stand that to be suc­cess­ful, ev­ery­one in the unit has to be work­ing to­gether,” Dressler said.

Dressler said the team con­cept rings es­pe­cially true in the scheme new offensive co-or­di­na­tor Paul LaPo­lice is in­stalling.

“Obviously, there are times where you’re iso­lated as a re­ceiver and you’re one-on-one with the quar­ter­back work­ing to­gether to make a play, but un­der coach LaPo’s of­fence, there’s a lot of con­cepts that re­quire us to work to­gether to make sure ev­ery­one has the spac­ing prop­erly,” he said.

Dressler said the Bombers’ front of­fice did its job, one of the main rea­sons he de­cided to sign here.

“It’s headed in the right di­rec­tion,” he said. “They want to win now and they are do­ing ev­ery­thing they can to do that. It’s on the play­ers and the coaches now to play and win games.

“The pieces are here, we have to put them to­gether.”

scott.bil­leck@freep­ress.mb.ca Twit­ter: @scot­tbil­leck

PHOTOS JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Re­ceiver Ryan Smith is only 5-7, but is blis­ter­ing fast and wildly elu­sive.

Wily vet­eran We­ston Dressler hauled in six touch­down passes last sea­son.

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