As some American rookies fumble around in the darkness that is the CFL game, Damian Sherman is starting to come into light.
Listed at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds -- measurements that don't really do the wide receiver physical justice (he looks taller) -- Sherman is in his second go-around with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. His first ride came back in April, when the team invited him to its spring mini-camp. There he immediately impressed the coaching staff with his speed, size and smarts.
During stop No. 2, which is currently underway as the Bomber rookies run around and get the blood pumping before main camp opens on the weekend, Sherman is showing the coaching staff a little more than the basics.
He looks calm and cool out there, staying within his limits and not trying to make the team in one drill.
He looks confident in an atmosphere surrounded with uncertainty.
Head coach Paul LaPolice isn't one to hand out gold stars to a rookie after two days of workouts. That said, the coach was pleased with how the 24-year-old out of Southern Illinois has advanced in the playbook coming out of the mini-camp -- putting into practice on the field what he's picked up just by being around the team.
"Sherman was able to spend three days with us and absorb some information," LaPolice said. "He's a little bit further ahead than some of the guys who didn't have an opportunity in mini-camp. He's a good football player. I'm impressed with his intelligence."
Sherman, who looks fully recovered from a left knee injury in 2009, agrees with the suggestion that the mini-camp experience has advanced his position in the eyes of the Bombers.
"I know the offence to this point, now it's just about getting on page with the quarterbacks," the Fort Pierce, Fla., product said. "You saw me run (about) 12 routes today, and didn't complete many. That's part of the process. (We're) going to get that down."
The case study involving Sherman and the time he's already put in with the Winnipeg coaching staff relates to another rookie receiver the Bombers are very high on. Unfortunately, the major difference between Sherman and Kito Poblah, the highly touted non-import receiver out of Central Michigan who was taken first overall in the supplemental draft this week, is that one is on the field, keeping himself ahead of the curve, and the other has been sitting at home the last two days.
It looks like Poblah will have a chance to catch up on his studying, though.
Late Thursday afternoon, his agent and the Bombers were busy finalizing a contract, and the club was confident Poblah would be getting fitted for a gold helmet this weekend.
"We're real close," Bombers GM Joe Mack told the Hustler & Lawless radio show. "I won't say it's done, but we're dotting the 'I's and crossing the 'T's. I'd be surprised if he wasn't here by Saturday."
The Bombers wrap up their three-day rookie camp today, before taking a breather for veteran physicals Saturday. Full training camp gets underway Sunday at Canad Inns Stadium, starting at 8:15 a.m.
The Bombers won't have to make any cuts until after the weekend (Tuesday, in fact), when they'll most likely have to trim three bodies to get down to 68 players. Players labelled 'non-counters' -- all 2011 draft picks, kicker Rene Paredes, and LB John Surla -- are not included in that league-mandated roster limit. ... WR Greg Betterson tweaked a knee Thursday and was limited in practice. ... KR Tim Brown is still nursing a broken bone in his foot suffered in April's mini-camp. A decision on his status is pending.