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JIM BENDER, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

Brendan Taman figures the elusive scatback is the best player he ever recruited. "Special guy, special player," the Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM said yesterday. "They don't come along too often."

Tailback Charles (Blink) Roberts is special in the way that he can deke, juke and spin away from would-be tacklers. Special in the way he can miss a plane and still star in a match while being in a coach's doghouse. Special in the way he shrugs off all those fines for being late for practices and meetings. But most of all for being one of the best ball-carriers to ever dominate the CFL, despite standing only 5-foot-6 and weighing in at a skeletal 171 pounds.

"He came up here, it seems like yesterday, but it was four years ago and he was an impact guy right off the top," Taman said.

Since Roberts has maintained that outstanding level, the Bombers ripped up his last contract and signed him to a new pact -- believed to be two years, plus an option, worth about $125,000 per annum to start. Including an undisclosed bonus up front.

"He turned 26 (April 3) so, he's got a lot of years left in him and fortunately for us, we're going to have a lot of those years here in Winnipeg," Taman said. "He was a pro throughout this whole thing. There were some contracts at his position that were pretty high, as we all know, but he never said a word about it to me until the end of the year. We felt that it was important that we reward him because he has proven that he is in that echelon himself. I view him as the top guy (in the CFL)."

Although Roberts was not making outrageous demands, he does believe he should be one of the top-paid running backs in the league.

"I feel, with the receiving, the blocking and everything I do on the field that I am the best running back in this league," he said matter-of-factly. "The thing is, we are a community-owned team and it's a lot harder to get the finances that some of these other teams are getting together for their marquee players. But I'm not a guy who's trying to get rich up here in the CFL. This is my home and this is where I want to be. I respect the fact that the CFL is where I'm going to end my career."

In only four years, Roberts has already moved into fifth place on the club's all-time rushing list with 4,858 yards on 887 rushes.

"I don't think I'm in my prime yet," said Roberts, who led the West with 1,522 yards on 300 carries last season. "I still have a lot of learning to do. There are some aspects of the game I still have to get better at and one of those is putting that ball in the end zone from further out. I can score when we get closer to the end zone but I really haven't been the guy to put it away. I've picked up a fair amount of yards over my career but the long run has eluded me."

This season, Roberts wants to rush for 2,000 yards and lead the CFL in all-purpose yards.

And Bomber head coach Jim Daley will be leaning on him heavily.

"The reality is that he gives us an identity that we can now build around," he said.


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