December 9, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Anyone who thought Jade Etienne would be the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' leading receiver heading into Week 2 of the 2013 CFL season please raise your hand.
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
And yet there it was in black and white on the CFL's game notes this week -- Jade Etienne, three catches, 79 yards.
That's a full 25 yards more than the next Bombers receiver on that list -- Clarence Denmark, who had two grabs in Week 1 for 54 yards.
And it's 38 yards more than Chris Matthews -- the 2012 CFL rookie of the year -- managed to put up in Winnipeg's loss to Montreal last week.
All of which is as impressive as it is unlikely for a man who had the grand total of one catch for 11 yards during his first two seasons in the CFL.
"I don't know if I saw it coming either," Etienne mused Wednesday afternoon. "I just really wanted to play. So I kept working hard and the game has really slowed down for me, especially as compared to my first year.
"But it's only one week and I've got to keep proving it every week."
The bulk of Etienne's yardage in Week 1 came on a 65-yard catch and run that was part of a huge third-quarter rally by the Bombers in what still ultimately proved to be a 38-33 opening-week loss to the Montreal Alouettes.
MONTREAL Alouettes tailback Brandon Whittaker will make his long-awaited return to the Als lineup tonight.
Whittaker has not played since he tore his ACL last September, but will return just in time to face a Bombers franchise against whom he had 235 combined yards in a single game here last July.
"I'm ready to go," Whittaker told reporters Wednesday afternoon after his club's light practice at Olympic Stadium, where the Als always hold their day-before walk-throughs.
"Everything feels good. The body feels good, the knee's been reacting well. So yeah, I'm ready to go."
The return of Whittaker and fullback Patrick Lavoie to the Montreal lineup this week will pose additional headaches for a Bombers team that was already on the losing end of the scoreboard when the two clubs faced each other in Winnipeg last week.
"I think they're both key elements of that offence," Bombers head coach Tim Burke said Wednesday afternoon. "Certainly if Brandon is back like he was before, he could be the best running back in the league."
Burke interrupted a reporter who harkened back to Whittaker's dominating performance against the Bombers here on July 6, 2012, during which he ran for 98 yards and caught 11 passes for another 137 yards and two TDs.
"I seem to remember that," laughed Burke, who was the Bombers defensive co-ordinator at the time. "Definitely we're aware of what they did a year ago...You always have to know where Whittaker is."
THERE are no surprises on the Bombers depth chart for tonight's game: Going on the 46-man roster is DL Zach Anderson, fullback James Green, WR Doug Pierce and DL Jake Thomas and coming off are OL Andre Douglas, DL JT Gilmore, DB Jeremy McGee and LB Rene Stephan.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 4, 2013 D3