Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–10–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Quarterback has familiar face to chuck the ball to

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Though Drew Willy has yet to take a snap in blue and gold, Bombers fans will be glad to know the pivot may already have chemistry with one of his key targets.

See, although Willy has yet to meet most of the team, he already sees one familiar face on the roster in receiver Nick Moore. The two athletes trained together, went through the grind of the NFL draft together, and kept in touch after they went undrafted in 2009 and battled their way onto NFL practice rosters. When Moore signed with the B.C. Lions in 2011, it was only another year before Willy followed him up to Canada, where he joined the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2012.

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So, back when they were dreaming of the NFL, did Willy and Moore ever pledge to end up wearing blue and gold?

"Yeah, I don't know if I would have said that," Willy laughed on Monday, meeting the media at Investors Group Field. Still, he's glad it came to be. "We're on the same page with a lot of different things... We picked up in the airport yesterday in Minneapolis like time hadn't passed. It's fun to be around him."

For Moore, the chance to play with an old friend comes at a fortuitous time. The 27-year-old receiver was one of the top free agents in the league when he signed with the Bombers in February, hunting for a place to build on a breakout 2013. He was dynamite for the Lions last year, hauling in 73 catches for 1,105 yards -- good for third across the league -- and six touchdowns.

Now, he'll get a chance to try and surpass those numbers with a quarterback he knows.

"I definitely think that people come into your life for a reason," Moore said. "Us being together, we never knew that it would happen. But being that we kept in touch after our different paths, and then we both ended up in the CFL, and now we're playing for the same team, it's a good feeling. Knowing you have someone who was there for you in your past."

A sidenote: although Moore's receiver brother, Lance Moore, was just released by the New Orleans Saints, Bombers fans shouldn't hold out hope the younger Moore is putting a CFL bug in his elder brother's ear. Lance is meeting this week with the Pittsburgh Steelers looking to iron out a deal, Nick said.

 

Watson back on track

Few Bombers have had a rougher go of things than Cory Watson, battered by bad-luck injuries ever since his breakout 2011 season. But with a new coaching staff, new starting quarterback and a healthy body, the Canadian slotback is hoping to get his career back on track.

"It seems like my first year in the league, where everyone is new and everyone is excited for the season," Watson said Thursday. "The past couple of years have been a disappointment... I'm looking forward to make this year another breakout year."

One thing has stayed the same since Watson started with the Bombers: Buck Pierce is still hanging around the stadium, albeit now as the Bombers' new running backs coach. "It's a little bit odd, I must say," Watson chuckled. "It's a little bit odd seeing him around and calling him 'Coach Buck.' It's going to be different, but it's going to be exciting."

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 21, 2014 C1

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