No­body’s safe at this time of year — not a sin­gle soul

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - SPORTS -

BE­ING a vet­eran on a pro foot­ball team comes with few as­sur­ances — this much Matt Buc­knor has learned over his four-year Cana­dian Foot­ball League ca­reer.

Having a leg up on the young bucks might be one of them, but to say any­thing is a given for even a ros­ter-hard­ened player would be in­ac­cu­rate. Noth­ing is etched in stone and shoul­der-check­ing isn’t needed only in driv­ing school.

Buc­knor, who etched out a reg­u­lar spot in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers sec­ondary last sea­son, start­ing all 18 games, is tak­ing noth­ing for granted. His early history try­ing to garner train­ing camp in­vites taught him bet­ter

“I’ve been in a po­si­tion where I was watch­ing train­ing camps in 2011 and 2012,” Buc­knor said, re­fer­ring to not be­ing passed over for main camps. “Be­ing out here, it’s an hon­our and a priv­i­lege, so you take ad­van­tage of every sin­gle rep, every sin­gle day you’re in a meet­ing room or a locker room, be­cause you never know when it will be taken away.”

The thought has crossed Buc­knor’s mind, es­pe­cially since vet­eran de­fen­sive back Chris Ran­dle has been slot­ted into Buc­knor’s fa­mil­iar corner­back spot af­ter play­ing line­backer last sea­son. But he’s tak­ing the high road in that dis­cus­sion.

“For the sec­ondary, it’s great,” Buc­knor said. “He’s a proven de­fen­sive back. He’s out there just like ev­ery­one else. It’s great to have him back. He’s a great team­mate on the field and in the locker room. He’s awe­some. I’m happy for him.”

Vet­eran line­backer Sam Hurl finds him­self in a sim­i­lar battle at mid­dle line­backer. With the re­turn of Ian Wild and the emer­gence of rookie Kyle . Knox, the battle for a spot on the ros­ter is cut­throat.

“It def­i­nitely is,” Hurl said, “but I think at the end of the day each guy un­der­stands that. That guy isn’t mak­ing the decision whether I’m on the field or not. At the end of the day, I’m go­ing to try to help him be as good as he can be and he’s go­ing to do the same. How­ever it pans out, whether I’m the starter or he’s the starter, we got to worry about the team. This year is about a Grey Cup. Every year is about a Grey Cup.” Like Buc­knor, Hurl has seen it all. “The big­gest thing I’ve learned over the years is it doesn’t mat­ter who the guy is or how old he is,” he said. “I’ve seen guys you’d say are a sure-lock to make the ros­ter and they end up get­ting cut, not even put to sec­ond string.

“At the end of the day, there’s no se­cu­rity there, no guar­an­teed spots. They’re look­ing for younger guys to take the spots. Noth­ing’s a given. I come out here and con­trol what I can.”

Hurl feels be­ing a vet al­lows for an ad­van­tage, even if small.

“I have a com­fort level that some of these guys com­ing in here don’t, they don’t know what they’re get­ting them­selves into,” he said. “The older you get, the more you come to un­der­stand what is im­por­tant and what isn’t.”

Sam Hurl is in tough at LB.

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