Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/4/2011 (4093 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It wasn't long after Terrence Edwards arrived in Winnipeg that he made one of the shrewdest decisions of his CFL career.
Rewind to 2007 and Edwards, with all of 11 games under his belt with the Montreal Alouettes, is a late-spring free-agent addition to the Blue Bomber roster. It is a signing, frankly, that is met with a collective shrug of the shoulders as Edwards had exactly 39 catches spread out over two years with the Als.
But as soon as Edwards arrived and saw an open locker stall next to Milt Stegall's, he wisely requested the spot beside the CFL legend. His rationale? Anything he could soak up from the man -- on the field or off it -- would make him a better receiver.
"Milt was one of the best to ever play the game and seeing how he did it... now I'm just trying to do the same thing myself with some of our young guys," said Edwards Friday after a contract extension that will take him through 2012 was announced. "That's what I learned from Milt: how to handle yourself physically and mentally every day and game day.
"I cherish that role. I enjoy it. Milt always said, 'Be a professional. Come to work every day and everything else will take care of itself.'"
"You get old pretty quick, don't ya?" added head coach Paul LaPolice with a chuckle. "He's learned very well from Milt. He's a good pro. Gets here early, studies, asks the right questions and he works hard. We expect him to continue to lead."
And so the man dubbed 'Baby Milt' upon his arrival -- they have the same build and trained together in Atlanta -- will now pass on the same knowledge as a mentor to a fresh-faced Bomber receiving corps that featured CFL rookies Greg Carr, Terence Jeffers-Harris and Cory Watson and the still-green Aaron Hargreaves at the conclusion of the 2010 season.
Interestingly, it's what Edwards sees in the receiving corps and the rest of the Bomber roster that made it easier for him to re-sign rather than play out his option. He believes there's potential there, real potential, and the soft-spoken Georgian wants to be around when that ability is fully tapped.
"I wanted to stay there in Winnipeg," said Edwards, who is in Atlanta helping out at the team's invitation-only free-agent camp. "I didn't want to play the option year out and go to free agency. The team wanted to keep me there, they think I'm a leader, and they said I was a big component of what we're trying to do.
"Here's the thing: I don't want to rehash a whole lot of the past, but the difference from the '09 season to the last season was very different, even though (two years ago) we had a better record. We played with a lot of young guys last year and we lost a lot of close games. We feel if we win at least half of those close games then that will put us in the playoffs.
"We've got a good quarterback -- I was sad that we traded (Steven) Jyles -- but I believe in Buck and I believe in the players we have there. I think, on paper, we're no different talent-wise than the champs. But they've done it and we have to prove it on the field."
Edwards, who turns 32 next week, is coming off a 2010 season in which he posted career highs in yardage (1,372) and touchdowns (12) while pulling in 78 receptions en route to being named a CFL all-star and the Bombers Most Outstanding Player. Now entering his fifth year in Winnipeg, Edwards has 4,478 receiving yards, a total which ranks him ninth on the Bombers' all-time list behind Stegall (15,153), James Murphy (9,036), Joe Poplawski (8,341), Rick House (6,286), Perry Tuttle (5,817), Ernie Pitts (5,525), Jeff Boyd (5,110) and Gerald Wilcox (4,608).
And he's posted those numbers working with three different head coaches since 2007 and a carousel of starting quarterbacks that includes Pierce, Jyles, Joey Elliott and Alex Brink from a year ago and also Kevin Glenn, Ryan Dinwiddie, Stefan LeFors and Michael Bishop.
Consider, too, that he was the only constant in a receiving corps that underwent significant change last season.
"We've got a lot of elements in our receiving corps," said Edwards. "We have Greg (Carr) who is a 6-foot-6 receiver and is one of those guys who listens and wants to get better. Cory (Watson) was one of those rookies who just works so hard and I heard he had a great mini-camp. He's going to be a great player in this league for a long time. And TJ (Jeffers-Harris)... we all saw what he could do last year.
"It's going to be fun to play with those guys again and see them get even better."