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This article was published 27/7/2018 (550 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Kenbrell Thompkins must be a very patient man.
The 29-year-old slotback from Liberty City, Fla., spent the first two months of the CFL season on Winnipeg’s practice roster. Tonight, he will finally start for the Blue Bombers following Adarius Bowman’s departure via trade to Montreal.
If Thompkins catches a pass, it will be his first reception in a regular-season game since Dec. 27, 2015, when he hauled in four passes for 27 yards from New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in a 26-20 win over the New England Patriots. Thompkins also saw active duty with the Patriots and Oakland Raiders during a three-year NFL career.
"I know he was in the NFL for a little bit. I know he’s one of the lucky guys that’s going to get to catch a pass from (New England quarterback) Tom Brady and myself," Blue Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols joked. "But aside from that, I don’t know too much about that — all I know is the guy came in here and worked extremely hard. I remember the first day of throwing routes on air, just throwing him a route and then just saying to the guy next to me, ‘Holy cow, this is a dude.’
"He just has that explosiveness that you want. He obviously has the body type that you want as a quarterback and I think he’s shown every day that he cares and he wants to be here. That’s all that’s important to me. I think he’s excited to be out there; he’s been working hard at practice and working hard in the classroom, making sure he understands all his stuff. He’s really bought into not wanting to let his teammates down and seems to be really happy to be here. That’s what you want."
Working with the first-team offence all week has been an adjustment for Thompkins.
"Being with those guys on every rep, it’s different; a lot different," Thompkins said. "A lot more communication.Those guys, they’ve been here. They know the game a little more, so I’m excited to be out there with those guys."
He said his time immersed in the winning culture of New England was time well spent.
"I went there and I learned a lot from those guys," Thompkins said. "I learned how to practise, I learned how to go about it in meetings, I learned how to come out here and be attentive — on the field and in the meeting room."
GETTING A WORKOUT: Winnipeg’s offensive line has been getting a lot of love lately, and for good reason. The Blue Bombers lead the league in rushing and tailback Andrew Harris is on pace for his most productive season ever with 610 yards in his first six games.
"I think we found our groove a little faster this year," right tackle Jermarcus Hardrick said. "I think it’s the chemistry we have from being together three years. Andrew’s making us look a lot better than we are. You have to give a lot of credit to Andrew. You miss some guys in protection, he picks them up. Miss guys in the run game, he breaks tackles. Basically, everyone’s selling out for each other — it’s a brotherhood."
NOTEWORTHY: Ex-NFL running back Dexter McCluster suffered a leg injury in Wednesday’s practice and did not accompany the Argos to Winnipeg... Harris is tied with Michael Richardson (1992), Robert Mimbs (1991) and Willard Reaves (1987) for second place on the franchise list for consecutive 100-yard rushing games with three. Topping the list? Reaves, who had eight straight during a run to a Grey Cup championship in 1984... Winnipeg slotback Weston Dressler has now caught a pass in 118 consecutive games, which is the eighth-longest streak in CFL history. No. 7 on the list is Craig Ellis, who had a 120-game streak.
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.