Howell catches WR role

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

Markus Howell got a call this off-season to find out what position he would like to have on his Grey Cup ring alongside his No. 88.

The answer was WR.

Despite the fact Howell never made a single catch last season and spent all of the 2008 Grey Cup run as a defensive back and kick returner, he considers himself first and foremost a receiver.

Well, Howell is back on the offensive side, taking Ryan Thelwell's spot as the fifth receiver for the season opener tonight against the Montreal Alouettes (8 p.m., TSN).

The 10-year veteran is looking to make his first grab since 2007.

"This is just like riding a bike," Howell said. "You get your balance back and then start flying. I have some big shoes to fill. I will hold the fort until they get back.

"Once (Thelwell and Jabari Arthur) are back, I'm sure they will get plugged back in and I will be doing what I do still."

Howell made one catch 2007, but it was for eight yards. The Winnipeg native never made any appearances on offence in 2008, but he had the ball in his hands 81 times in the return game.

"Hopefully, I can get a few in this game and stick one into the end-zone," said Howell, who had his last TD in 2006.

"It's been a while. They made the switch during training camp and I was able to knock the rust off. Henry (Burris) is not shy in throwing the ball to me. We have to go out there and make plays."

Even with playing a bigger role on offence, Howell will still do the punt returning, although he might get spelled off a bit for coverage assignments.

"Coach said he was going to run me until the wheels fall off," the 34-year-old said.

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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