Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–6–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Beefed-up Simpson figures he has the goods to be great

Running back aims for stars

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YARDAGE and points are always going to be the measuring stick but weight is definitely part of the conversation with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' offence to start 2013 training camp.

Starting quarterback Buck Pierce has gone for the leaner approach and lost as much as 20 pounds.

The team's No. 1 running back, Chad Simpson, has gone the other way, but not as drastically as some think.

"Eight or nine (pounds)," Simpson said Tuesday at Investors Group Field. "Basically I got with some guys that told me I could carry more weight. I was coming here last year, the CFL and a faster game, and I didn't want to be behind, so I lost as much as I could before I got here."

'I had a good season. The main word in that sentence is "good." I want to be great... I'm trying to be great.'

The 27-year-old Miami native, who has 28 games worth of NFL experience, is listed in the camp guide at 204 pounds. His NFL playing weight with former teams was listed as 216.

"I feel great, like I did in college," Simpson said. "I'm at my NFL weight and I've been eating better, stretching more. I feel real good. Good and healthy."

This, of course, is good and healthy news for the Bombers, who will be counting on continued production from the running back who impressed many in 2012.

Playing only 14 of the team's 18 games and emerging as a dynamic starter, Simpson exceeded 1,000 yards on the ground (1,039) on 173 carries and added 276 more receiving yards.

All of those items were factors in his selection as the team's nominee for CFL most outstanding player.

"I had a good season," Simpson said. "The main word in that sentence is 'good.' I want to be great. I had a couple of injuries, which I don't want to use as an excuse, but this year, I'm trying to be great."

Simpson's contributions are certainly one reason some optimism is present for the 2013 offence.

Simpson said he'd like to continue to be a spark but insisted the big picture is not about just him.

"Again, it wasn't just my spark," he said. "We were pulling together. The guys were tired of losing at that point (when the team's offence perked up in 2012). I just came along at the right time. It could have been an inch of a spark. I'm not going to just say, 'Chad generated the team.' There are 12 guys out there."

But more of the same is definitely welcome.

"Definitely, especially with the young talent we've got," Simpson said. "I feel we're the most talented team in the CFL. This is not just because it's my team. I've been around football for a while. I've been playing since I was seven, I've been pro for three. I know talent. This is a talented bunch."

No doubt Simpson headlines one of the team's deepest positions, with Chris Garrett and Will Ford lending quality to the depth chart.

While he was delivering his pep-talk-ish rave about the Winnipeg roster, the second-year Bombers' running back also promised that there's going to continue to be joy in his game, a positive energy noticed by so many last season.

"You're a son to a mother," he said. "You're a father to your daughter. You're (a husband) to your wife. I please everybody off the field. This is for me. Football is for me."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 5, 2013 D3

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