AFTER three months of idling on the taxi squad, Isaac Anderson is finally getting the green light.
Thanks to the return of Canadian running back Carl Volny, the import receiver gets his chance to collect a CFL game cheque when the Blue Bombers tangle with the Calgary Stampeders Friday night. The 23-year-old is the designated import on offence, replacing running back Will Ford in that role, while pushing receiver Jade Etienne to the sidelines.
Anderson has been on the practice roster since the end of training camp.
"Every day I just come out here with the group of receivers that are on the practice squad and we treat every day out here like it's a game," the Wisconsin-product said after practice Wednesday.
"There hasn't been any different tempo. The speed's the same. So I come out here all strapped up and it's a game tempo every route. It's not like we're out here jogging around. I'm trying to go full speed every play."
Every player at this level -- especially the young guys trying to make an impression -- boasts of superior work ethic and ability like they're the only ones worthy of the chance to showcase their talent in a game situation. Anderson's claim that he's put in the time is different, though. His assertion is backed up by the coaching staff.
"He's been getting ready all along," Bombers interim head coach Tim Burke said.
"I see him in there every day watching video. He goes out on the days we have off and runs routes and runs receiver drills and stuff like that. He's just one of those guys who is always getting ready. I'm expecting good things from him."
Calling Anderson "dynamic," Burke feels the 5-foot-10, 170-pound slotback adds something to the Winnipeg attack that's been missing of late: Speed.
"He's a guy who can make people miss and get extra yards," the coach said. "He's got a lot of speed, so we're hoping that element (shows up Friday). I can tell you as a defensive back coach, the thing I hate to see the most is a really fast receiver. That's what he is."
Anderson should be quick. Speed runs in the family.
His father Mel was a standout wide receiver at the University of Minnesota (he had a cup of coffee with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1987) while his mother Lisa was a member of the Golden Gophers track team. Taylor, his 17-year-old sister, is a rising high school track star in Minneapolis, too, having run an 11.7 in the 100-metres as a junior.
Is his sister the fastest in the family?
"At this age she could be," Anderson said, adding that his parents are in the process of obtaining passports so they can came to Winnipeg and watch the Bombers play against Hamilton (Sept. 21).
It sounds like that game will be an introduction to the Canadian football game for the Anderson clan. Despite growing up just seven hours away from the Manitoba border, the Bombers receiver admitted he never heard of the CFL until Winnipeg appeared on his career map.
"I didn't know the numbers game when I got up here," he said. "I didn't know the whole ratio and all that stuff. I just thought we were all competing against each other. And it was like, 19 Americans? Oh, man!"
HASH MARKS: Receiver Clarence Denmark tweaked his knee in practice Wednesday but should be OK for Friday's game. Burke also confirmed defensive back Johnny Sears would be making the trip. He'll be starting at one of the cornerback positions.
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