LOST amid the hand-wringing surrounding the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' 38-21 loss to the Toronto Argonauts Tuesday was the play of Bombers returner Troy Stoudermire.
The former University of Minnesota standout made his Bombers debut a memorable one, returning three punts for 119 yards -- including a 61-yarder -- and bringing back six kickoffs for a combined 154 yards, including a 37-yarder.
Dare to dream, but have the Bombers finally, mercifully found a man who can reliably return kicks?
Stoudermire thinks so. "I'm excited," Stoudermire said Thursday. "I feel like if they go to me again, it's going to be an even more exciting game because that was my first game and all I'm going to do is get better and better every game.
"But at the end of the day, it's up to the coaches and all I'm going to do is just keep practising hard like I have been and hopefully keep making the most of my opportunities."
A castoff of the Saskatchewan Roughriders who the Bombers picked up after the season began, Stoudermire broke the NCAA record for career kickoff-return yards in 2012 as a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
He went on to a stint with the NFL's Cincinnatti Bengals.
Stoudermire said he only found out two days before the Toronto game that he was going to be playing on Tuesday in place of an injured Aaron Woods, who, before Stoudermire, was the latest in a string of returners the Bombers have auditioned this season.
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With the Bombers nearing the league lead in sacks given up and their running game continuing to sputter, there's been lots of focus lately on the struggles of the offensive line.
But veteran tackle Glenn January says the finger-pointing at his unit for the struggles is missing the bigger picture.
"We obviously haven't been perfect," said January. "And we've had some injuries and some guys slotting in and out, which hasn't been ideal for the unit either.
"But look -- we both know any time the offence has success, it's because the quarterback and the running back did a great job.
"And any time there's a failure, the public opinion is the offensive line didn't do their job," January laughed.
"It takes all 12 of us to be successful on the run and the pass. If there's a sack, sometimes it's because the running back didn't pick up the right guy or they brought more guys than we could block or the quarterback missed his read.
"And it's the same for the running game -- there's lots of things -- not just the offensive line -- that go into these things.
"It takes a whole group to get the job done. And I think everybody has been taking a turn lately screwing up."
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