Bruce III returns to form

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

For a guy who was questionable until the 11th hour because of an abductor injury, Arland Bruce III did not perform too badly yesterday.

The dynamic Argos receiver, who was a last-minute addition to the roster Sunday after the team deemed he was fit to play, was not slowed one bit by an injury that kept him out of Toronto's previous game last Thursday in Montreal against the Alouettes.

Bruce played a key role in the Argos' 34-27 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the Rogers Centre and elevated his game when backup quarterback Michael Bishop was pressed into action.

When asked if Bruce did more than expected, Argos coach Pinball Clemons said, "Significantly more.

"Some of the things he does, only Arland Bruce can do. He's a great football player, he's got great awareness and great sense. Having him in there made a difference."

With quarterback Damon Allen out with an ankle injury suffered in the third quarter, Bruce became one of Bishop's favourite targets. On the pivotal touchdown drive that put the Argos up 34-20, Bruce made an 18-yard catch from his knees to open the sequence and then made another 33-yard reception. The ex-Bomber, who was held back from his usual kick-return duties, finished with six receptions for 84 yards.

"It felt good just to get back on the field," said Bruce, who was injured in the first half of a game July 15 against the Lions in B.C., and fought through pain to continue playing in the second half.

"I was just excited. You don't realize how much you love your job until you're out."

As usual, Bruce snagged balls in spectacular fashion. He made a one-handed grab in the first half and jumped up to haul in a Bishop pass in triple coverage.

"Just give me the ball," Bruce said. "I'll go get it wherever it is ... I'm a playmaker."

SURPRISED

Bruce seemed surprised when reporters asked him if he surprised himself.

"Not at all," he said. "I know how to take care of my body and I take care of my body good. Those days off helped."

Bruce wasn't the only Argos receiver to have a big game as Allen and Bishop combined for 428 passing yards. Robert Baker, as tough a receiver as there is in the CFL, led the way with five catches for 139 yards and Wilfrid Laurier product Andre Talbot had 98 yards on six receptions.

"(Baker) makes the tough catches for us," Clemons said of Baker, whose 67-yard catch-and-run play in the second quarter was the team's longest reception of the season. "He brings a different dimension to our football team ... He doesn't mind catching the ball in traffic."


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