IN a week of change for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, a key one will see a new candidate to run back kicks.
Head coach Tim Burke said Wednesday newcomer Aaron Woods, 26, will be taking back both kickoffs and punts when the Bombers meet Calgary on Friday.
"It's my first game in the CFL and I'm just really excited to show my skills," said Woods, the 2011 special teams player of the year in UFL.
Signed to the practice roster July 8 the 5-6 returner and receiver from Portland, Ore., said he's more than ready to give the CFL a try.
"Every day I feel a bit better with the rules, the length of the field, the strategies versus in the States," he said. "Every day, more and more comfortable."
And in his eyes, what makes a good kick returner? "Following his blocks," Woods said. "Confidence, confidence in the scheme and in your teammates. A kick returner can only be as good as the people in front of him blocking."
FOR coaches and fans, it's been a long week analyzing the mental softness that the Bombers seemed to display in losing at home to Toronto last Friday.
Burke says he's been blunt with players and he doesn't spare much when he brings his comments to the press room, either.
"We're waiting around to see if we're going to make a play... or waiting around to see if something bad happens," the coach said Wednesday. "We're not necessarily paying attention to the details. OK, you keep making the same mistake game after game after game. Sooner or later you have to realize you're part of the problem and until you clean up your part of the problem, you're not going to be successful as a team.
"So there has to be a sense of urgency to clean up your problems."
FROM the practice roster will come yet another new defensive back.
With injuries shifting several people to other spots, Wesley Pendleton will be activated for Friday's game.
"I'm very happy about that," the 23-year-old from Mississippi said Wednesday. "It's been a long time since I played, the first pre-season game. I'm really excited. I've been injured a little bit but I'm excited. But when it comes down to it, it's just football and you've just got to go out there and play my role and make some plays."
Pendleton said he expects to be a bit nervous running down the tunnel for pre-game introductions and maybe for the opening kickoff, but believes that adrenaline will carry the day.
"A hundred and twenty per cent," he smiled. "To the highest floor. I'll just try to keep my composure, not get too energized and just remember my assignments and play football. That's what it comes down to, play football."