Growth spurt aids both Bruce, Boatmen

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- From a rookie, to an NFL reject, to starting over in the CFL, it has taken some time for Arland Bruce III to enter the more mature phase of his career.

But now that he has arrived at that place, the Argos receiver intends to thrive.

The third-year Argo did it in dramatic fashion last night, scoring the game-winning touchdown with 2:23 remaining with an acrobatic catch.

Originally ruled an incomplete pass, video review showed Bruce clearly had dragged his left foot on the blue end-zone carpet and the call was overturned to seucre the Argos 18-15 comeback triumph over the Blue Bombers.

"I knew I got my foot down, I felt it touch," said Bruce. "We work on that in practice. There was never a doubt."

After a struggling first half, Argos quarterback Damon Allen caught fire in the second and Bruce, who was held catchless in the first, was ready.

Allen connected on a 73-yard bomb to R. Jay Soward to start things and Bruce's dramatic play clinched it.

He snagged four in the second for 58 yards, including the one everyone will be talking about today. It's the latest step in Bruce's maturation as a veteran leader on the Argos offence.

"I've never been a rah-rah guy, I think I'm more of a leader by example," Bruce said this week.

"I go out there and do my job, but to hear that guys may be looking up to me, that makes me feel good. It's a role I think I'm probably ready for."

With more than 850 receiving yards, Bruce is third in the league in that category and on pace for a monster season.

"If I'm the go-to guy, I'll take that," the 28-year-old Bruce said. "If I'm not the leader of the team, I'll take that too. It's part of growing as a person and a player.

"As far as my performance and my learning curve, it has definitely gone up this year."

Now in his third season with the Argos and his fifth in the CFL, Bruce is often the driving force on the team's offence.

GOOD RECORD

Since joining the team, the Argos are 9-2 when Bruce has scored a touchdown.

The Kansas native joined the Argos midway through the 2004 season after being released by the San Francisco 49ers, where he had spent a season as a special teams player.

Prior to his brief tenure in the NFL, Bruce played two seasons in Winnipeg, where he established himself as a young receiver with big upside and earned a cup of coffee in four-down football.

Bruce has built nicely on the 2005 campaign in which he had a career-high 1,205 receiving yards. And now in his third year in Toronto, he's starting to feel like he has a home.

"When I first started out, I was just happy to be playing football," Bruce said. "I was glad that I got the chance to come back to this league and play (with the Argos).

"But I've been on this team for two years now and I'm starting to realize this is my home.

"I'm feeling more like a veteran now and that's a good thing."


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