IT looks like Jade Etienne is staying in Winnipeg.

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This article was published 22/6/2011 (4031 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

HADAS.PARUSH@FREEPRESS.MB.CA
Jade Etienne sees little point in  returning to CIS competition.

HADAS.PARUSH@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Jade Etienne sees little point in returning to CIS competition.

IT looks like Jade Etienne is staying in Winnipeg.

Barring a drastic shift in thinking over the next two days, Etienne, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' fourth-overall pick in the 2011 college draft, is expected to stick with the club in some capacity when the roster deadline passes Saturday at 2 p.m.

The team has dropped hints they'll make space for 6-foot-3, 183-pound receiver out of the University of Saskatchewan.

The question: Will he be on the active roster or the practice roster?

"There is no worst-case scenario," Etienne said after the Bombers walk-through Wednesday. The Bombers take on the Toronto Argonauts at Canad Inns Stadium tonight (7 p.m., TSN).

"I'd love to play for the Bombers this season -- that's my ultimate goal -- and if they think I need a year to develop, that's OK, too. I'm going to develop faster playing against guys like Alex Suber and Brandon Stewart (in practice).

"Ultimately as a player, I think it's better if I stay here."

Etienne has been an interesting figure this training camp. Many feel the Bombers extended themselves when they selected him ahead of higher-profile Canadian receivers Nate Coehoorn and Marco Iannuzzi. With the decision under the microscope, sending Etienne back to the CIS could be viewed as an error in judgment.

Etienne has shown flashes of tremendous speed and agility. He's also shown some compelling confidence issues.

The latter can be addressed if he stays here, the club says.

"The advantage (of staying in Winnipeg) is he'd be immersed in pro football and he'd be in a position to stay with our coaches, stay with our players, and continue to learn," Bombers coach Paul LaPolice said. "That's immeasurable."

An expected response, but to LaPolice's credit, there is evidence to back up his stance. Last summer, the club asked OL Chris Greaves to forgo his final year at Western Ontario and stick around Manitoba. The staff thought it best he get a start on his CFL career by consuming as much pro game knowledge as he could take.

The plan worked. Greaves has advanced so far in his development that he's in the mix for a starting spot this season.

It's that kind of progress Etienne hopes to make this year.

"I just don't think playing against cornerbacks in the CIS is going to develop me as well as it would up here," he said. "I want to be a CFL player. That's the goal, and if I stay here I'll get there sooner."

Brian Towriss, the Huskies head coach, thinks the 21-year-old would be better off returning to school. That's probably not going to happen, he concedes, but he hasn't heard from the player or the Bombers regarding the plan for Etienne.

"Obviously, we'd love to have him back," Towriss said. "The payoff of staying in Winnipeg is great, but there are some benefits of returning to the Huskies. Etienne would finish his degree, and would also see automatic playing time as the No. 1 receiver, plus get an opportunity to build up confidence in game situations."

Also consider that Etienne has played just eight CIS games in his career (he missed most of the 2009 season with a broken back). There's no guarantee he'll step in and be a CFL player in his first year -- at least not after the mixed results and confidence issues he's experienced in his first pro training camp.

Etienne says he isn't concerned about playing time at this point.

"I feel like I'm developing a lot... I'm getting there," he said. "Time will tell to see where I fit in."

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca