With the watery devastation of Calgary spanning out before him, James Green signed on with the Red Cross, rolled up his sleeves, and went to work.
Now, after spending much of the last week helping clean up his flood-ravaged hometown, the former Blue Bomber is back in Winnipeg’s fold. On Sunday, Green was on the field for Bombers practice, helping to shore up a team already pinched by injuries: linebacker Rene Stephan is out for a month with a hamstring injury.
He couldn’t come right away, as he laboured in the mucky aftermath of the flood, but getting the call was a thrill. "I was on the cusp of what I was going to do, whether I was going to play or not," said Green, 30, who played three seasons with the Bombers before they parted ways last year. "(When I got the call), I got real excited, and I said to myself, ‘Hey, why not give it another shot, and let’s play.’"
He wasn’t the only familiar face to return to the club either: defensive lineman Marquis Frazier, released by the Bombers only a week earlier, was back on the practice roster, after first-year pro Zach Anderson was promoted to the main roster.
With JT Gilmore out with a calf injury, Anderson is pegged to start when the Bombers visit the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday. "To me, it feels just like a dream come true," said Anderson, who joked that he could "throw a baseball into Canada" as a kid.
Anderson, who signed on with the Bombers after wrapping up his college career with the Northern Michigan Wildcats, said his family back home in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan – yes, it’s right across Lake Superior from the Ontario town of the same name – plans to throw a Fourth of July party and tune the bigscreen in to his first pro game.
Bombers boss Tim Burke called Anderson’s game "relentless" on Friday, and the 24-year-old took that in stride. "I come from a small school, went to a small college, I didn’t rely a lot on technique," he said. "I relied a lot on hustle, and just getting after it. I’ve got a don’t-stop motor, and I’m just going to keep coming."
Meanwhile, three key Bombers cogs – quarterback Buck Pierce, receiver Chris Matthews and running back Chad Simpson – rested bumps and bruises on Sunday. Meanwhile, defensive back Johnny Sears Jr. is still recovering from knee surgery, and Burke said he may back in the line-up to meet the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on July 13.
Burke described Sunday’s practice as "kinda slow," as players still shook off aching muscles from Thursday’s season opener. "Just not enough recovery time yet from game one," he said. "Probably the first week is a little bit of a shock to the body.
Two familiar faces took the field at Blue Bombers practice on Sunday, brought in to the team to shore up after a spate of injuries.
Canadian linebacker James Green, who played three seasons with the Bombers before being released, rejoined the club on Sunday after spending the last week helping clean-up amid relief efforts around flood-ravaged Calgary.
Also on the field was import defensive lineman Marquis Frazier. The Bombers cut the former Southern Methodist University player only a week ago, but called him back to the practice roster to fill the hole left by Zach Anderson, who is moving up to replace injured tackle JT Gilmore.
Quarterback Buck Pierce, receiver Chris Matthews and running back Chad Simpson did not take practice reps on Sunday. After practice, head coach Tim Burke said the three key Bombers cogs were just resting bumps and bruises in advance of the game against the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday.