August 18, 2018

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Dressler back on top after injuries

Slotback looking for career milestone against Ticats

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>A reception Friday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats would give Weston Dressler his 120th consecutive game with a catch, which would equal Saskatchewan’s Craig Ellis for eighth all-time in the CFL. </p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A reception Friday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats would give Weston Dressler his 120th consecutive game with a catch, which would equal Saskatchewan’s Craig Ellis for eighth all-time in the CFL.

A three-inch scar, beginning on Weston Dressler’s left hand and extending down his index finger, is a sobering reminder of an injury-filled 2017 season for the 11-year CFL veteran.

Dressler suffered the injury on Oct. 21 in Toronto, but finished the season with the hand heavily taped. Following the season, a surgeon inserted a metal plate and five screws to stabilize the fracture.

He remembers being faced with a choice that wasn’t a choice at all: immediate surgery. In a flash, his season was done.

“I didn’t catch many balls in practice or warming up for games after that,” said the 33-year-old slotback following Thursday afternoon’s walk-through prior to Winnipeg’s home date with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Friday. “It was one of those things. During a game, you notice it, but you can get away with a lot because the adrenaline is flowing. At practice, I didn’t want to put my hand out to catch a ball.”

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A three-inch scar, beginning on Weston Dressler’s left hand and extending down his index finger, is a sobering reminder of an injury-filled 2017 season for the 11-year CFL veteran. 

Dressler suffered the injury on Oct. 21 in Toronto, but finished the season with the hand heavily taped. Following the season, a surgeon inserted a metal plate and five screws to stabilize the fracture. 

He remembers being faced with a choice that wasn’t a choice at all: immediate surgery. In a flash, his season was done.

"I didn’t catch many balls in practice or warming up for games after that," said the 33-year-old slotback following Thursday afternoon’s walk-through prior to Winnipeg’s home date with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Friday. "It was one of those things. During a game, you notice it, but you can get away with a lot because the adrenaline is flowing. At practice, I didn’t want to put my hand out to catch a ball."

Dressler was limited to seven games in 2017 after also sustaining injuries to a hamstring and sternoclavicular joint, but he’s been back with a vengeance in 2018, catching 27 passes for 309 yards and adding six carries for 38 more yards in seven games. 

He is also poised to establish another career milestone.

A reception Friday against the Ticats would give Dressler his 120th consecutive game with a catch, which would equal Saskatchewan’s Craig Ellis for eighth on the league’s all-time list.

His last game without a catch came on Aug. 12, 2010, when he was still a member of the Roughriders.

Furthermore, Dressler is 200 yards away from becoming the CFL’s 17th 10,000-yard receiver and is a mere three catches short of becoming the 13th player to reach a career 700-reception plateau.

Do these milestones mean anything to the Bismarck, N.D., product?

"Right now, they really don’t," Dressler said.

"I wanna win. I want Grey Cups, playoff wins, those things. But they’re definitely something you’ll always have to look at when it’s over and celebrate that. I think they’ll mean something when I’m done."

Blue Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols was asked to describe Dressler in one word. 

"I definitely wouldn’t use one word," Nichols said. "He’s so many things. He’s so precise in his route running, he sees the game like a quarterback. On the fly, I can tell him how I want a certain route run against four different looks and he’s never going to mess it up. He sees the field the same way that I do. From that aspect, he’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever played with, in terms of the football IQ.

"He’s explosive and he can separate from people, so he just does everything you want in a receiver and he’s one of my favourite guys I’ve ever played with. I definitely look up to Dress, the way he prepares, as soon as practice is over, he’s pulling guys into meeting rooms to make sure everyone is on the same page. When we break the huddle, he’s reminding everyone on every little detail. He’s just an extremely talented football player."

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @sawa14

 

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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