Commonwealth curse

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

Chew on these stats.

Eight carries for 10 yards two years ago. Nine rushes for 24 last year. And 13 for 53 this season.

Not great numbers for Charles Roberts -- one of the best tailbacks in the CFL since he first arrived in 2001 -- whenever the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have invaded Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium.

And we will not even count his one touch for minus-one in the 2002 West Final because he was knocked out of the game on that carry.

Do-or-die contest

And Roberts will have to face the Eskimos on that mysterious natural-grass surface in a do-or-die contest once again Sunday.

"Yeah, it's been pretty tough up there in Edmonton," Roberts conceded yesterday. "It's just circumstance, I guess. I mean, it can't last forever. Sooner or later, you have to have a good game. This is my last opportunity this year so, I hope it's Sunday.

"Man, I'd like to have a huge game. It's that type of game where you want to be right in the thick of it as far as coming out with a victory and being able to say I was a key part of that. I'd definitely like to be a key part of that and I feel as though I am prepared to have a big game this week, as well as the team."

Now, everyone knows that every time Roberts rushes for 100 yards, the Bombers win and Winnipeg head coach Jim Daley has a feeling that he is ready to break out of the doghouse in a big way.

"Charles Roberts has had three of his best practices of the year," said Daley, who had been first annoyed that Roberts missed Monday's practice due to a missed flight connection, then perturbed that his pants kept falling down during Wednesday's workout. "He's run hard in practice. Our O-line has gotten off the ball. We need them to have a great game in one, running the ball and two, protecting the passer. And we need Charlie to have a great game."

Roberts is quite capable of keying a Winnipeg victory. After all, he currently leads the West with 264 carries for 1,305 yards -- 181 behind CFL leader Troy Davis of Hamilton. And playoff money would help offset all those fines he has paid. But the Bombers must beat Edmonton first to keep those post-season hopes alive.

Vulnerability

"That's a big game, man," said the 5-foot-6, 171-pound phenomenon. "We've got to get this win and finish up this season 2-0 to get into the playoffs. With Saskatchewan knocking off Edmonton and showing us some vulnerability on Edmonton's part, hopefully we can go in and do the same thing that Saskatchewan was able to do. They were more physical last weekend and we need to do the same.

"It's definitely a playoff game. If you don't win this game, there's no chance in hell. There's no more chances to be given out to us so, we've got to capitalize on this one."

But first, Roberts must get there and the Bombers had a flight booked to Edmonton very early this morning. Roberts said he was not worried about getting to the airport in time.

"I hear there's a poll going around," joked Bombers GM Brendan Taman. "Knowing Charlie, he'll probably be early. Of course, early for him is 10 minutes before the plane leaves."


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