No more Mr. Nice Guy

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

Jeremaine Copeland didn't think it would come to this. But after dropping two crucial passes late in last week's loss in Regina, a post-game chat with his father made him realize he'd have to make radical changes.

Namely, he'd have to start disobeying coach's orders.

"I've been trying to be a leader this year by doing my business quietly and handing the ball to the ref after a catch -- that's not my game," explained the colourful receiver, asked repeatedly by Tom Higgins to curb his on-field antics.

"All year I haven't been talking trash, I've been Mr. Nice Guy. No more. I've got to be me. Now it's going to be more the guy that used to be out there having fun, trash-talkin', celebrating whenever he wants to, not just when he gets to the endzone. I'm going to do the things that keep me pumped up and play the ball I've played since I was five."

Known as much for his cockiness as he is for his ability to break games open, the Stamps deep threat said his substandard start to the year is about to turn. And in many ways, he has Roughriders defensive back Davin Bush to thank for that.

"Me making that drop had him feeling like he made the play on me and when I heard him chirping in my ear, I really think that was the last straw," said Copeland, eighth in CFL receiving yardage, which is further down the list than he generally sits.

"When you start that talk, you change me into a different person. If you make a play, I'll give you respect but if you don't I can't give you any until you do. I didn't want to say anything to anybody but I don't care about disrespecting anybody anymore. I'm about to have some fun and take care of things."

So, not only can Bush and his fellow backs expect to get an earful during tonight's rubber match at McMahon, the fans are also going to see a side of Copeland they haven't since last year.

"My dad saw me drop those balls and knew that wasn't me so he reminded me to play Jeremaine Copeland ball," said Copeland of his longtime coach and mentor.

"All my stuff will be between the lines so I'm not a bad seed. I play better shooting my mouth off so I just really think we need to get the swagger and cockiness back and that will start this weekend."

And he'll do so without seeking Higgins' blessings first.

"I'm just going to go out there and do it -- if he gets mad at me it'll be after the game," said Copeland, held to just one touchdown this year.

"If I keep making plays I'm pretty sure it's going to be all right."

Higgins agreed, sort of, but pointed out the party would be over if such antics drew penalties.

"He was never instructed not to be himself and there was never any intent to take him off his game," said Higgins, whose team voted to tone down celebrations.

"If he gets into the endzone three times I won't be paying much attention to it but I'll know he's probably dancing. I'll just focus on getting 12 men on the field for the extra point and I'll shake his hand on the bench when he's done."

Copeland figures the rest of the stadium will be using their hands to applaud.

"I think the fans love it when we put on a performance for them -- that's what they're here to see," said Copeland.

"They brought me here for a show and I haven't been giving them the show they want, which is all about to change. I plan on doing something real big this week."

Whether that's just lip service remains to be seen.


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