Bombers strong at receiver with addition of elite-talent Ellingson

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A highly touted Winnipeg Blue Bombers off-season addition is nearing a return to action.

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A highly touted Winnipeg Blue Bombers off-season addition is nearing a return to action.

Canadian Football League (CFL) veteran Greg Ellingson signed with the team in February but has been watching training camp from the sidelines this week. The all-star receiver won a Grey Cup in 2016 with the Ottawa Redblacks and has 42 career touchdowns.

“I think he’s close, more precautionary than anything,” said Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea following the team’s training-camp session on Wednesday.

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Blue Bombers wide receiver Greg Ellingson is one of the best receivers to play in the CFL over the past 10 years, says QB Zach Collaros.

Ellingson joins a receiving core that lost key fixtures in Darvin Adams and Kenny Lawler this past off-season. Lawler was the only receiver to reach the 1,000-yard mark last year and hauled in six touchdowns. Adams on the other hand left the team after six seasons in Winnipeg, catching 38 touchdowns and racking up almost 5,000 receiving yards.

While Ellingson joins Winnipeg following the departure of two of its heavy lifters, O’Shea and company like what he brings to the table. O’Shea praised the league veteran for his leadership, understanding of CFL defences and ability to meet the quarterback’s needs.

“It’s not just about his consistency,” said O’Shea. “If you just look at the numbers or watch any game he’s played in, he’s consistently one of the best receivers on the field and now he’s with us, which is excellent.”

It’s also a reunion for Ellingson and Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros, who made a Grey Cup appearance together with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2014.

“I think Greg’s one of the better receivers to have played in this league for the last 10 seasons,” said Collaros. “I’m sure the numbers back it up and any coach or player that’s played against him… would say the same thing.”

Collaros said Ellingson’s tangible skills are “off the charts,” adding the team is excited for to see his football IQ on display. He also added because Ellingson has played in many different offenses around the league, his different vantage points will add a helpful wrinkle to the team.

“Losing Kenny is definitely hard… he’s an unbelievable player. Darvin what he’s meant to this organization and the phenomenal games he’s had here, losing those guys and trying to replace that production is difficult,” said Collaros. “I can tell you I breathed a sigh of relief when we signed Greg, I think he’s gonna do his part in matching that productivity.”

Winnipeg’s starting quarterback has also noticed a crop of receivers making a strong impression at training camp. He pointed out the returning trio of Rasheed Bailey, Nik Demski and and Drew Wolitarsky as those who will be relied on this year.

Familiar faces aside, Collaros said American receiver Dalton Schoen has had a great training camp and likes what he’s seen from Carlton Agudosi.

“We got a lot of young guys, very excited to get them out there on the field against a team that likes to play a lot of man coverage,” he said.

Ellingson will look to improve on a season where he played in just 10 games and had only one touchdown when he returns. But until then the team remains ready to get him back in the mix.

“He’s been consistently playing at such a high level for a number of years, it’s nice to have him on our side,” said O’Shea.

gavin.axelrod@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: Gavin77axe

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