Quietly confident

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

Eric Carter had been a CFL all-star cornerback for six consecutive seasons when Wally Buono didn't re-sign him in the off-season.

The question a lot of people probably posed to the B.C. Lions head coach was, "Why?"

"Somebody will say, 'I don't understand why they let him go,' but I don't ever want to say that," Bombers head coach Jim Daley said yesterday. "You know why? Because we all do it. It's because of a combination of factors that a good player ends up on the street.

"... I don't know all the factors in (Buono's) decision. All I know is we were the recipient of a very good DB and we're glad of it."

Carter, 35, signed with Winnipeg in the off-season and, after thinking his career was over in July because of a torn triceps muscle, has come on as of late. Tomorrow night the native of Wayne, Ga., will return to B.C. Place for the first time since spending five all-star seasons with the Lions.

"I'm glad he's hitting stride and I hope he has a great game because I know anytime you go back to where you played, there's always the perception that it's a big game or a special game," Daley said. "The reality is we need him to play great football against his former team and I think he's very anxious to do it, and we need him to do it, because their receiving corps is as good as we'll see."

The Bombers (6-8) need a victory against the Lions (9-4) in the heated race for a playoff spot and/or playoff position in the West Division. Winnipeg is currently tied for third with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-8) and is two points back of second-place Edmonton Eskimos (7-7). The Eskimos play the Tiger-Cats tonight in Hamilton, while the Roughriders host the Montreal Alouettes tomorrow night.

Carter, being the crafty veteran that he is, downplayed his return to the coast. He wasn't spitting mad that his former team is poised to win the West, nor did he point out that his new team is struggling just to make the playoffs.

It's like his girlfriend dumped him, got an extreme makeover and became Playboy Playmate of the Year.

"I'm just blessed to be playing football this year," Carter said.

Where's the rage? Where's the talk of revenge?

It's not coming out of Carter's mouth, although his good friend and former teammate, Lions defensive back Bo Lewis, tried to stir the pot earlier this week.

"We haven't talked much the last couple of weeks, but we still stay in touch pretty regularly," Lewis told the Vancouver Sun. "I've been telling the guys since Eric had that two-interception game a couple of weeks ago he's been acting like he's too important to talk to me."

Carter, being Mr. Nice Guy again, spoiled the budding war of words.

"He was just having some fun," Carter laughed. "We talked on the phone for hours last night, until one in the morning! We talk all the time."

Borrrrrr-ing.

The closest Carter came to getting into it was this: "I need two interceptions for 50 for my career. I've asked to be blessed and I have a feeling it's going to happen this weekend ... at B.C. Place."

Not exactly trash talk, but it will have to do.


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