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Watson's return a bright spot for Bombers

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WHAT'S this, some good news on the injury front?

Cory Watson returned to the practice field Sunday after missing the first four games with a hamstring injury. Barring a setback -- and the way things are going, this warning comes with fingers crossed in Bomberland -- the third-year slotback, a key contributor to the Winnipeg offence both as a pass catcher and as a run blocker, should be good to go against Edmonton Thursday.

Watson says it's been difficult to watch the Bombers get off to a winless start and not be able to do anything about it, but being on the sidelines has given him a new perspective on the offence. His takeaway through the first four games: Winnipeg isn't physical enough.

"Our guys are really playing with intensity. (Running back Chad Simpson), you see the way he's running he's running real hard and we need a little more physicality in our offence," said Watson, who caught 69 passes for 783 yards in 2011. "We're a little bit passive at times; we need to be more physical."

That frank, honest assessment is an example of the leadership role Watson wants to take this season. Next to Terrence Edwards (who may miss the Edmonton game with a leg injury), he's the next veteran receiver on the Bombers roster.

"The experience is the most important thing," Bombers starting quarterback Alex Brink said. "He's also a physical guy. Last year, he was huge for us in the run game. He's also a great run-after-catch guy, so you know if you throw a short pass to him that he can break some tackles and get a first down for you."

With Edwards out, practice roster receiver Isaac Anderson was getting a lot of work Sunday.


-- -- --

OK, the Blue and Gold injury list. Let's start with the fresh ones and work back from there.

Starting right tackle Andre Douglas, who's been out for over a month with a hip injury, was looking good at Canad Inns Stadium -- right up to the point when he rolled an ankle and couldn't participate anymore. Joining him with an ankle issue is linebacker Dustin Doe, who also was sporting a limp after practice.

Running back Chad Simpson (foot), wide receiver Chris Matthews (upper body) and defensive tackle Bryant Turner (undisclosed) were spectators. All are expected to play Thursday. Running back Anthony Woodson (shoulder) is expected to return to the lineup.

Defensive tackle Brandon Collier is doubtful, as his shoulder injury will need some time to heal.

Defensive backs Brandon Stewart (lower body), Alex Suber (lower body) and Ian Logan (lower body) all watched Sunday, while linebacker Marcellus Bowman (leg) was a partial participant. All appear to be unlikely to play Thursday, though definitive decision won't be made until later this week.

Finally, quarterback Buck Pierce remained in a walking boot Sunday.


-- -- --

Concussion protocol in football continues to be a hot topic, specifically as it pertains to not only the team's ability to hold players out if they suspect a concussion, but the athlete's role in coming forward with a possible head injury.

Players want to play -- that hasn't changed from the day when CFLPA president Mike Morreale used to line up as a receiver in the league.

"Hopefully that's a thing of the past," he said on a visit to Winnipeg Sunday. "When I played, you got back up, dusted yourself off and played -- probably the wrong decision."

Morreale says the CFL and the CFLPA have instructed teams and players to consider all head injuries serious and says more players are sitting out games and practices as a result. A commendable approach to change the culture but are players -- who want to play for fear of being left behind on the depth chart -- being honest with themselves when they get their bell rung?

Alex Brink took a big hit from Edmonton linebacker JC Sherritt July 13 (Brink was knocked from the game, only to be up and running at practice two days later), but the Bombers quarterback says he didn't suffer a head injury and wasn't woozy on the way back to the bench.

He stayed down on the turf because he was concerned about his neck, he told reporters Sunday. Twitter: @wazoowazny


After managing 108 yards on 24 carries in three games, the club released running back Bloi-Dei Dorzon Sunday. His practice roster spot was taken by defensive lineman JT Gilmore, who played for the Orlando Predators (Arena league) earlier this season.



Edmonton has allowed a league-low 56 points through four games this season (14 points per game average). The Bombers have allowed a CFL-worst 141 points against; a 35-points-per-game average. Both clubs have yet to crack the century mark in points for (Bombers 78; Eskimos 89).

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 23, 2012 C2

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