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This article was published 7/9/2016 (1869 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg wide receiver Ryan Smith says he’s 100 per cent healthy and is champing at the bit to play in Saturday’s Banjo Bowl against the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Smith, who has missed six games since suffering a lower-body injury in the Bombers’ Week 4 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, will likely take Clarence Denmark’s spot in the offence after claiming the lion’s share of first-team reps Wednesday in the team’s first practice since Sunday’s thrilling last-second win against the Riders, ending an 11-year Labour Day Classic drought.
"It’s good to be back on the field again," said Smith. "I’m pretty grateful to be back playing football again. I missed it."
Smith said he’s excited to play in his first Banjo Bowl wearing blue and gold. The 25-year-old former Roughrider is hoping to be part of the Bombers’ first sweep of the annual home-and-home series since 2004 and their sixth straight win, something not seen in these parts since quarterback Khari Jones led Winnipeg to 12 victories in a row in 2001.
"It’s a big-time game for me and a big-time game for this team," Smith said. "We got go out there and do everything we got to get this W. The Riders are a great team. They’ve got some really athletic guys on that team, they play hard and they’re well-coached. We have our work cut out for us."
Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said he has to keep things fresh as he prepares for the Riders again.
"Guys are ready to go, so you got to give them enough new material, sort of present the old stuff in a new way because the guys know their opponent and want to get out there and do it," he said.
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The Bombers added defensive back C.J. Roberts to the injured list after Sunday’s game.
His ailment was undisclosed, but he will miss at least this week’s game against the Riders.
Offensive lineman Sukh Chungh and defensive back Maurice Leggett didn’t practise Wednesday but are expected to play Saturday.
Safety Macho Harris and defensive back Chris Randle returned to practice. Harris spent time working with the second-team on defence, meaning rookie Taylor Loffler is likely to keep the starting gig.
Meanwhile, offensive lineman Jeff Keeping’s 13-week absence with a knee injury — far beyond the initial six- to eight-week diagnosis — hasn’t come due to a setback in his recovery.
"He’s probably pretty ready to go, just the point of the six-game (injured list) and pulling a guy off of it or not comes into question sometimes," O’Shea said. "I know whenever he’s needed and tapped on the shoulder, he’ll be ready to go. As far as leaders go, that guy never stops."
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You’d think running back Andrew Harris would be able to secure several tickets for the Banjo Bowl, his first as a member of the Bombers.
"There’s going to be a lot of ticked off people," said Harris after practice. "I just went to go buy some tickets for the game and I couldn’t get two tickets for my family to sit together."
The Bombers announced Wednesday there were less than 150 tickets remaining.
"This is what we wanted to build with this team," Harris said of the near sellout. "Having the city and fans excited, I just can’t wait for this place to be rocking on Saturday."