STANDING before the camera, Bryant Turner smiled and looked so whole, and only the fact he wore no jersey hinted at the scary moment of the week before.
The defensive tackle was feeling much better on Tuesday afternoon, he said, than when Bombers fans saw him last: laid out on a Montreal field on July 4, struggling to breathe after sacking Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo for the third time that game.
"It was pretty scary," Turner said, after watching his teammates practice at Investors Group Field. "It was hard to catch my breath, and that was a pretty important thing I needed right then."
For 15 hours after that hit, Turner waited in a Montreal hospital for a cardiologist to check out his tests. Those came back fine. The breathing troubles were triggered by sprained ligaments in his chest, and by Tuesday he was already looking forward to getting moving again. He likely won't play in Saturday's game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but hopes to figure in when the Toronto Argonauts visit Winnipeg next week.
While he waits, an honour: on Tuesday morning, the CFL announced Turner as the league's player of the week, a nod towards his monster performance last Thursday. Turner rammed his way across the Alouettes offence, finishing with two tackles and three sacks. He also forced Calvillo to fumble, to complete a masterful shutdown that left the Als quarterback shaking with frustration after the game.
It's the first time Turner has been named the league's player of the week, but he swore it wouldn't go to his head. After all, he said, last year he had a three-sack game early on but it still took awhile to get a groove. "I think that's one of my biggest games of my career," Turner said. "It's over now, I'm ready to move on, hopefully get this injury under my belt and move on to the next game."
But while he works at getting back to ready, his absence opens a big opportunity for a player who almost never got the chance. Only a few weeks ago, Marquis Frazier was cut when the last axe fell on training camp, and the big 6-4, 276-pound Texan got ready to go home. But after the first game of the season, starting DT JT Gilmore went down, and the Bombers pulled Frazier back onto the practice roster. Now, he has an opportunity to win a start.
"It's unfortunate that I'm getting my chance off of injury," said Frazier, 25. "I'm definitely going to make the most of it. I feel I played pretty well during the pre-season. There's some pressure, but I almost feel no pressure, because I know what my abilities are."
Still, it's hard to replace Turner, especially after a game where the defence stole the show. Frazier knows this -- but said he intends to give it a go. "I have some big shoes to fill," he said. "I don't know about three sacks, but I plan to get a couple sacks, so I have a lot of things to do."