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Boatman was happy to get back into game

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive tackle Shannon Boatman "has excellent feet, really good balance and he plays with a low centre of gravity," says Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke.

And Boatman has also got a little extra motivation going for him this week.

Boatman -- 6-6, 342, Florida State -- is expected to start his third consecutive game for the Bombers this Saturday evening against the Toronto Argonauts, Boatman’s former club and the same team that put him out of football for over a year when they cut him in training camp in 2011.

With no other interested takers in his services after Toronto cut him, Boatman moved back home to Beaumont, Texas and found work outside of football as a substitute physical education teacher at an elementary school in his hometown.

And that’s exactly what Boatman, 28, was doing when the Bombers finally came calling early this season with a chance to get back into football. While he’d been out of the game for over a year, Boatman said the flame still burned bright and he leapt at the chance to prove he could still play.

"It was really tough. I was really missing it. I was back home teaching those kids and I just wanted to get back on the field and hit somebody so bad at times," Boatman said Thursday afternoon at Canad Inns Stadium following his club’s final full practice this week in advance of Saturday’s game against the Argos.

"I’m so glad to be back."

He’s not only back, he’s starting. For the last couple weeks, that start has come as a result of an injury to regular starting right tackle Jordan Taormina. But even with Taormina once again healthy and practicing this week, Boatman still got the starting nod against the Argos this week, testimony to just how much he has impressed the Bombers coaching staff with his play.

"He does a great job in staying in front of the defensive ends and he doesn’t give up the edge," Burke said Thursday. "And mentally, he’s pretty sharp too."

Burke said he’s seen other examples just like Boatman -- he cited current Bombers defensive back Brandon Stewart and former linebacker Clint Kent as examples -- where an enforced absence from football prompted a renewed passion in the player once he returned. "When you don’t have it anymore," theorized Burke, "it really makes you reflect."

Boatman said his body has paid the price this season of such a long time away from the sport. "My body is still getting used to playing after taking a year off. I mean, my back, my knees, my hands -- everything was just hurting. And now everything is starting to come back around. Pretty much what’s holding me together right now is this tape and a couple of these bandages."

While the Argos were the team that sent him packing from football, Boatman points out they were also the team that gave him his first shot in the CFL in 2009.

"It’s pretty special. I’m approaching it as another game, but I have some feelings. They gave me my first shot in the league. And I understand it’s a business and things happen and I have a good amount of friends over there. I’m looking forward to playing those guys."

FIELDNOTES -- Defensive back Johnny Sears returned to practice on Thursday after missing sessions on Wednesday and Tuesday... Defensive back/kick returner Demond Washingston took the day off because of a sore toe, but Burke said he will play Saturday.


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