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This article was published 24/7/2017 (1552 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
He was a bright spot for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, even if he was overshadowed by one of his teammates.
T.J. Thorpe caught eight of nine passes thrown his way for 65 yards in Friday’s loss to the B.C. Lions. That went relatively unnoticed thanks to veteran Darvin Adams, who led all Bombers with 87 yards on five catches, two for touchdowns.
While many have come to expect that kind of production from Adams, not many would have predicted Thorpe would have a big night. After all, it was his first CFL game coming just a week after returning from a lower-body injury.
"I think I graded out pretty well," Thorpe said following Monday’s practice at Investors Group Field. "Looking at the film after the game there was a few things I want to clean up, but for the most part I felt really well."
Thorpe, 24, was a little bit shocked, however, with just how big a role he was able to play.
"Looking at the play calls I didn’t think my role would be that big," he said. "But just with how the flow of the game went and the what the defence gave us, it kind of just led me to making those eight catches."
Thorpe had impressed the coaching staff in training camp, even drawing comparisons by offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice to former standout CFL receiver Arland Bruce. Thorpe returned to practice ahead of the Week 4 matchup with the Toronto Argonauts but only replaced L’Damian Washington on the first-team offence ahead of his debut against B.C.
What the Bombers like about him is his physicality, which was evident against the Lions. Almost half of Thorpe’s yards came after the catch, with almost every run seeing him bulldoze through defenders.
"For someone who returns kicks – and I played running back for a greater part of my life – having the ball in my hands is a natural thing," Thorpe said. "Then just being physical and fighting for those yards, I think a lot of those guys in the secondary don’t expect that from a receiver, to be able to lower his shoulder and fight two or three guys."
ALL PAID UP
Bombers linebacker Kyle Knox was on top of the world after he picked off a pass from Lions quarterback Travis Lulay early in the second quarter. But the high from earning his first interception of his pro career was quickly stolen from him after a roughing the passer flag on Jake Thomas nullified the play.
Thomas, who said he felt bad about what he had done to Knox, would eventually make up for it in a big way, turning an interception of his own into a return TD for Knox.
"When it happened Jake did say to me on the field he owed me one, but I wasn’t expecting to get it back later in the game," Knox said, smiling. "Jake’s awareness was on a 100 right there and luckily I was in a good position to capitalize on it."
It was Thomas’s first interception in his six-year CFL career. Thomas, 26, juggled the ball at first but when he got a hold of it he raced upfield toward the sidelines. It wasn’t long after he got there he was looking to give it away.
"I played a lot of rugby growing up so you’re kind of always looking for someone... we always talk that. Every time we get the ball we’re trying to score," said Thomas.
"Initially, I was dropping in coverage when it happened," recalled Knox. "Then I turned back when I heard kind of a roar and I saw Jake was fumbling with the ball so my first reaction was go block for my man.
"So as I’m running up there I see him hold it out and I didn’t know if he was going to pitch it, and then he did it again, and I just grabbed it and thought 'let’s see if we can take it home.'"
Knox took the lateral and scampered 34 yards to the end zone. It was the first touchdown of his professional career, and a play – and payback – he said he’ll never forget.
"It was probably one of the best feelings I’ve had on the football field," he said. "As linebackers we get praised for big hits but getting a touchdown is like the ultimate goal."
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.