It's unseen and unplanned but the torch from veteran receiver to rookie is being passed between slotback Terrence Edwards and wide receiver Chris Matthews of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Matthews, whose performance this season is getting CFL rookie-of-the-year buzz, credits Edwards' leadership for getting him to such a level so quickly. Edwards credits Matthews for "staying humble and ready to learn."
"He kept working, he wasn't satisfied even though he came out on fire the first few games and he strives to get better every day," Edwards said.
As the 5-12 Bombers prepare for their final game of 2012 CFL season on Saturday, Matthews will have one more chance to find the end zone for the Bombers while Edwards is expected to miss the game due to an injury to his right foot.
"I don't know if watching me and how hard I go had anything to do with it, he just has it in him that he wants to continue working to be the best," said Edwards, 33, who is eighth in CFL receiving with 70 catches for 1,049 yards. Matthews is ahead of him in sixth with 75 catches for 1,137 yards. "He's had a great year and he did it on raw talent. Imagine once he gets his game down to knowing things before they happen, he's going to be scary."
The Blue Bombers have scored a league-low 16 passing touchdowns and Matthews has seven of them.
Matthews is the first Bombers rookie to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season, something he said was done with Edwards' guidance.
"Terrence is a great guy, he's smart and he knows he has a lot to offer to help out the young guys and he's doing a tremendous job," said Matthews, 23. "I take my hat off to Terrence. If it wasn't for him, I don't know if I'd be doing this good or if I'd pick up the playbook that fast."
Matthews said Edwards initiated a game in which Edwards would throw out a play and challenge Matthews to identify it.
"He does that a lot. Day in and day out. We'll be sitting in the car at McDonald's or something, he'll pull out a play and put me on the spot," Matthews said with a smile.
"T is an old guy, I'm just going to throw it out there, he thinks he's a lot smarter than everybody else so sometimes I just sit there and I compete with him to see. I'm not going to just back down."
Edwards joked that he paid attention to Matthews at first because they both played college football in the Southeastern Conference.
"I took a little liking to him early because we played in the same conference and I watched him playing in college," Edwards said, smiling. "When he came out in that first game for us against B.C. and had a great game, I knew this guy could be special. I just wanted to make sure he continued on the right path. If he continues to work and learn, he's not yet where he needs to be mentally to be the best but he's learning."