Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Dressler gives Green some grab

Receiver and fan favourite could make instant impact today

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REGINA -- It is a love affair instantly rekindled. Weston Dressler is back and Roughrider Nation is absolutely giddy about the return of the deadly receiver

He was cheered on Friday when the Riders conducted a practice open to the public. And the throats were in full roar a day later when the club held its annual fan day in advance of the 51st Labour Day Classic.

Now the question is, how quickly can he make an impact on the Rider offence?

"The terminology, when I first started looking at everything again, I recognized a lot of the words, but it took me a little bit to remember what the play was and the small details within every play," said Dressler Saturday. "Those are the big things that can make a good play a great play. So I'm just trying to get as much of that back as possible.

"It'll take me a week or two to kinda get settled in and understand where this team is at, where the season's going, the flow of the season. I did follow the team pretty closely while I was away, so I kind of understand that a little bit, but not within the locker-room."

Dressler, who stands 5-8 and tips the scales at 164 pounds, has been a fan favourite in these parts since he first pulled on Rider green. The University of North Dakota product is a sure-bet Rider hall of famer and his 442 career receptions ranks behind only Ray Elgaard and Don Narcisse.

The connection goes both ways, too. Dressler wore the No. 13 during his stint with the Kansas City Chiefs in honour of Rider fans -- the 13th man. And so when he steps onto the field this afternoon, it won't feel like just another home game.

"There's always emotions coming out of the tunnel here, especially on Labour Day," said Dressler. "I'll just be trying to keep all that in check... and keep everything under control throughout the game."

Dressler said four teams made contract offers after his release from the Chiefs, but the Bombers were never really in the running.

And when the contract talks were concluded, returning to Regina just felt "right" again.

"Going through the whole process, the contract talks and all that, it was nice when it was over to have a place that I'm comfortable with, a place that I know well," said Dressler. "It just feels like the right place.

"I've been here for six years... I've been through a lot with a lot of guys in that locker room. This fan base, to think about the tough losses we've had a long the way. The big wins and the bad... there's a lot of memories, good and bad. But that's what makes the good memories even better going forward."

QB UPDATE: Both starting quarterbacks enter Sunday's game working with sore hands. The Riders' Darian Durant admitted he wasn't 100 per cent while the Bombers' Drew Willy, it's worth noting, conducted his entire media availability on Saturday with his throwing hand tucked in his pocket.

"It's fine. I'll be ready to go," said Willy. "The adrenaline will definitely be a good kick for it. And once I see the fans and just the whole atmosphere in the stadium I don't see it being a problem."

Ditto, Durant.

"I'll be ready to go tomorrow. Hopefully it holds up," said Durant. "I won't be 100 per cent. But if I feel like I'm not in a position to help the team win I won't hesitate to sit it down and let Tino (Sunseri) get the reps.

"I feel it. I feel it every single throw. But it's something I can tolerate at the moment. But like I said, if there's a time where I feel like I can't go I definitely won't put the team in a bad situation. I know it's a long situation and it's about making that run in the playoffs. So if I can't go, Tino will get the reps.

"As long as I can tolerate the pain and if it's not taking any velocity off the ball for now, then I'm going to give it a go."

NFL CUT-DOWN WATCH: Some news from down south as NFL teams sliced their rosters to 53 down in advance of Week 1: LB Henoc Muamba has made the Indianapolis Colts, as have two other Bomber draft picks with their teams -- Andy Mulumba (Green Bay) and Christo Bilukidi (Cincinnati).

Cut adrift were former Bomber wide receiver Chris Matthews (Seattle) and defensive end/linebacker Philip Hunt (Colts) along with U of M Bison alumnus Izzy Idonije (New York Giants). Already there are reports the Ottawa Redblacks will be interested in Matthews once he clears waivers.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 31, 2014 B2

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