Bradley's in a rush

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:08 PM ET

There's another football headed for the mantle at Mike Bradley's family home in Haliburton, Ontario.

The first went on display after Bradley returned a kickoff 92 yards for his first Canadian Football League touchdown in 2003.

Bradley's addition to the collection comes following the Edmonton Eskimos 27-8 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at CanadInns Stadium Thursday night.

By taking a first-quarter handoff from Ricky Ray and racing 60 yards to the end zone, the 26-year-old running back recorded his first CFL rushing TD.

Ironically, both of Bradley's TD gallops have come at the expense of the Blue Bombers. The 92-yarder came on the games opening kickoff at Commonwealth Stadium. "I think if you look back, I tend to have a lot of my better games against Winnipeg," he said. "I don't know what it is. Maybe we should play them every week."

While a number of eyebrows might have been raised following the play, none of those doing the double take were wearing Green and Gold.

"He's one of the fastest guys in the league," said veteran offensive lineman Bruce Beaton. "It's just fun to stand there and watch him run down the field. We've got the best seat in the house.

UNTOUCHED

"He got through untouched but after that it was just flat-out speed. I knew once he was in the open field, there was nobody out there that could catch him."

Had Elvis Joseph not been sidelined early in the game with a rib injury, the Waterloo University grad would have had his obligatory four or five carries and been a force to be reckoned with on special teams.

But after Joseph left the game in the opening quarter, head coach Danny Maciocia needed a tailback. Whether Bradley gets the nod versus Montreal next Friday remains to be seen.

"If, for whatever reason I'm the guy who is going to line up back there next week, I welcome the opportunity and I welcome the challenge," smiled Bradley, no win his fourth season with the Green and Gold. "I've been waiting for it for a long time."

The five-foot-eight, 205-pounder was a return whiz during his collegiate career with the Warriors. It wasn't until the '03 season that the Esks began to exploit those talents. And Bradley was certainly no slouch when it came to running the ball.

He established a Waterloo career record for rushing and was a three-time All-Canadian as well as a nominee for the Hec Crighton Award in 1999.

"I don't know Elvis's status but we've got guys like Ron McLendon and we saw what Mike could do," said rookie head coach Danny Maciocia. "Obviously, we need to be two deep at that position."

But with McLendon in camp and former NFLer Reggie White also on the payroll, are the Esks ready to start a non-import in the back field?

"I don't know if we're there yet and he's the first one to admit it," said Maciocia. "He's closing that gap as far as having the opportunity to actually go out there and say, 'Can I have my 10 or 12 carries a game?' He plays such a huge part on special teams, we can't do without him."

NO QUALMS

Ray has no qualms about handing the ball off to Bradley.

"He's got everything you want in a tailback," Ray observed. "I guess he's just a little bit under-sized, which might be one of the reasons he doesn't get a fair chance to compete back there.

"He knows his role. He knows he's going to be a great special-teams player and if something happens, he's got to step up and play tailback for us. He sure stepped up."

LATE HITS: OL Rhett McLane appeared to tweak his surgically repaired knee Thursday and will be re-evaluated. FB Mathieu Bertrand, meanwhile, may have suffered a neck strain.


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