If the Winnipeg Blue Bombers want to teach someone how to play special teams, it’s simple: show them Mike Miller tape.
"Any bit of film that gets played of Mike Miller playing special teams, it’s being done right, it’s being done the way we want it, being done at a high level, with a great degree of physicality and skill. And the play usually ends up in Mike Miller’s favour," said head coach Mike O’Shea on Saturday.
"Anytime these young guys can see that, it’s a great picture for them to learn from. Just having him around them, just to talk special teams with them, I think they can understand how important it is and how to be successful as a pro special teamer."
The 32-year old fullback from Riverview, N.B., is entering his fourth season in Winnipeg and 10th overall in the CFL after spending his first six with Edmonton.
"I still think about getting him here and I’m shocked that we were able to get him," O’Shea said.
"He’s a great teammate, he understands the game of football, he’s a great mentor in the running-back room and for special teams, he’s always helping somebody out and taking control of situations. There’s nothing not to like about him."
Despite winning a Grey Cup with Edmonton in 2015 and another with Winnipeg in 2019, Miller, who started his career as an undrafted defensive back out of Acadia, still has some unfinished business to take care of. Miller is six special teams tackles shy of owning the CFL’s all-time career record. The record currently belongs to former B.C. Lion (2008-2016) Jason Arakgi with a grand total of 190 special teams tackles.
"I haven’t thought about it too much, I guess. I’ve been more focused just on getting back into the swing of things and playing football again," said Miller, the West Division’s most outstanding special teams player in 2019.
"I’m just happy that we’re able to do this again. I mean, it was a long off-season. I’m not even sure how many (tackles) I’m actually away from (the record) but I’m just happy to be back playing football again."
Miller isn’t just a tackling machine who leads by example.
"I definitely talk to a lot of the Canadian rookies, and even the Americans, just to be able to let them know the importance of special teams," Miller said.
"They don’t realize how important special teams is up here. It’s huge, it’s one-third of the game and field position is everything. When you get a lot of two-and-outs, keeping the other team pinned or getting a big return, it can create huge momentum swings in the CFL."
Frustrating day for Harris
At the beginning of Saturday morning’s practice, star running back Andrew Harris walked gingerly off the field after catching a few passes. He was visibly frustrated as he took the tape off his wrists and was a spectator for the rest of the day.
Harris, the CFL’s leading rusher the past three seasons, has been sidelined for the majority of camp. Through 15 days, his backup Johnny Augustine has yet to participate as he’s also dealing with an injury.
"That’s the process he’s clearly going through," O’Shea said on Harris. "He’s gonna go through a bit of frustration. I know he wants to be out there and we’re not letting him go full-go yet. When he finally gets to play, he’ll be less frustrated I’m sure."
The Bombers released former Manitoba Bisons wide receiver Macho Bockru on Saturday and signed linebacker Nakas Onyeka out of Wilfrid Laurier.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.