Ellingson proves his worth

Scores early touchdown, makes key reception on game-winning drive in Bombers debut

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Zach Collaros wasn’t shy to admit it to the media on Thursday.

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Zach Collaros wasn’t shy to admit it to the media on Thursday.

When free agency rolled around, he reached out to his former Hamilton Tiger-Cats teammate Greg Ellingson and gave him the pitch to come to Winnipeg.

Obviously, whatever Collaros said worked as the 33-year-old wide receiver agreed to be the prized free-agent signing for the Blue Bombers. And so far, the Bombers have gotten a solid return on their investment.

John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ receiver Greg Ellingson gets tackled by Ottawa Redblacks’ Justin Howell (left) and Sherrod Baltimore during the first half Friday night.

Collaros and Ellingson haven’t played together since 2014, but you wouldn’t be able to tell in Friday’s thrilling 19-17 victory over the visiting Ottawa Redblacks. Collaros leaned on Ellingson, who spent the past two seasons with the Edmonton Elks, leading to the Tampa, Fla., native finishing with a team-high six receptions for 74 yards on what was an overall lacklustre evening on offence for the Bombers. Ellingson opened the scoring in the first quarter with a five-yard touchdown grab to give the Blue and Gold an early lead.

“Yeah, it felt nice. At the time, going into half, we were down by one still. But now that we have the W, it feels good to get a touchdown and it’s nice to start Week 1 by getting into the end zone and getting the dub for the team,” said Ellingson after the final whistle.

He’d save his most important catch for last, though.

With Dru Brown under centre on the final drive (Collaros was taken out of the game by the injury spotter after some contact to the head after scrambling for a first down), Ellingson came up big with a 21-yard catch and run to set up the game-winning field goal.

“It was great. The fan base, they’re loud, they make it tough on the opposing team when they’re backed up. It was good to see that and be on this side and wave the towel on the sideline and get the fans excited,” Ellingson said.

“I’m proud to be here, I’m happy to be here and it’s nice to start the season right.”

Ellingson only had one touchdown in 10 games last year. Prior to 2021, Ellingson rattled off five-straight 1000-yard seasons with the first four coming with Ottawa.

But the veteran receiver wasn’t the only one to impress.

Rookie Dalton Schoen looked like a doghouse candidate after a crucial fumble in the third quarter. But the Kansas State product quickly put that behind him for an impressive stat line: five catches for 69 yards. Just like Ellingson, Schoen saved his best for last as the 25-year-old was on the receiving end of Brown’s first pass ⁠— a 16-yarder to put them on the path to get the winning points.

Ellingson wasn’t surprised to see Brown get the job done when called upon.

“We’re all professional football players. That’s a testament to what (Brown) does in practice. Our quarterback room, all those guys are capable of coming in, and if someone goes down, be the next man up and they just proved that they could do that today,” said Ellingson.

Nic Demski and Rasheed Bailey combined for eight catches for 67 yards.

COLLAROS “INJURY”

Collaros was taken out of the game on the final drive by the injury spotter after scrambling for a first down as there was some contact to the head from a Redblacks defender. It was for precautionary reasons as Collaros appeared to be OK and even tried to get back onto the field a few plays later. After the game, last season’s Most Outstanding Player award winner was heard telling someone that he was fine.

“The injury spotter pulled him for three plays. The command centre in Toronto, there’s an injury spotter in the command centre, and they can review any play and they can zip down to the head official and get a player to the sideline to be looked at,” explained Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea.

“It’s a player safety measure and it’s obviously, they felt he wasn’t ready to go for the next play so they pulled him.”

ADAMS PUTS UP NUMBERS AGAINST OLD CLUB

After six seasons together, the Blue Bombers made the decision to move on from Darvin Adams in the offseason.

The 32-year-old wide receiver, now with the Ottawa Redblacks, repeatedly told the Free Press on Thursday that revenge was the last thing on his mind heading into Friday night’s Week 1 meeting with the Bombers at IG Field.

Well, actions speak louder than words. Adams looked like a man on a mission last night, hauling in seven passes for 71 yards in Ottawa’s heartbreaking loss to the back-to-back Grey Cup champs.

Adams didn’t catch more than five passes in a single game in 2021.

Adams only caught 26 of 49 of his targets last season for 441 yards and four touchdowns. Now playing in Ottawa alongside quarterback Jeremiah Masoli in a more prominent role, Adams looks like he has more left in the tank than some people thought.

The other big name receiver Ottawa signed in the winter, Jaelon Acklin, led all pass catchers with 92 yards on five catches. However, it wasn’t a great night for Acklin as he dropped a perfectly placed deep ball from Masoli in the opening quarter that could’ve been a touchdown play.

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen
Reporter

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...

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