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JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Yup, he really is "special."

Keith Stokes of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers could be reading all about his own exploits in a magazine coming soon to a newsstand near you after he was named the CFL West Division nominee for special teams player of the year by the Football Reporters of Canada yesterday.

"It's an honour," Stokes said. "There were a lot of guys out there who had great years this year. I had a good year but you never know what's going to happen and where that award is given out."

Stokes, 25, led the CFL in punt returns (80 for 949 yards) and kickoff returns (56 for 1,112 and one touchdown) and set the club record for most punt return TDs in one season (four). The lickety-split 5-foot-8, 180-pounder, who was third in the CFL in combined yardage (2,594), is the odds-on favourite to win the CFL award.

Stokes will be up against Ottawa's Jason Armstead, who was third in punt returns, sixth in kickoff returns and fifth in overall yardage.

"Armstead had a good year, too," Stokes said. "It's always nice to be respected. We put in a lot of work in the off-season to do something like this and it paid off. But personal goals come second to team goals."

Stokes, who was also named to the West Division all-star squad, confirmed that he will get bonus money for his exploits. But he is not about to demand a new contract.

"I'm sure when the time comes to boost it up, it will add a little weight," he said. "But I'm not about to renegotiate my contract -- unless they want to offer me something."

The Bombers acquired Stokes from Montreal for draft picks last season and have been patting themselves on the back ever since.

"We felt our return game was a weakness so, we decided to make the trade," said club GM Brendan Taman. "He impacted a lot of our games with his returns this season.

"He's been good for us this year. We've just got to get him to stop reading magazines."

Stokes got into hot water for yanking a hidden magazine out of a goalpost padding, then pretending to read it after scoring a touchdown in a game against Hamilton.

LOST SAME CATEGORY

Stokes, who lost the same category to Saskatchewan's Corey Holmes two years ago, was asked if he would tuck a magazine under his arm during the awards ceremony at Grey Cup week in Ottawa.

"Maybe if I win, I'll do something like that," he joked.

The other Bombers named to the western dream team were tailback Charles Roberts (unanimous), rookie defensive end Tom Canada, as well as defensive lineman Joe Fleming and safety Wes Lysack -- both acquired from Calgary in the Khari Jones deal.

"Yes, (placekicker Troy Westwood not making it) is a surprise," Taman said. "And I thought that (defensive lineman) Doug Brown might have had a chance to make the all-star team."

Brown was the club's nominee for both top defensive player and top Canadian. Edmonton's Sean Fleming, who struggled earlier this season, was named both the all-star punter and placekicker. Taman added that defensive back Ricky Bell also deserved consideration. Saskatchewan's Eddie Davis and Calgary's Joey Boese got the nod in that category.

"But I don't get too excited," he said. "I'd rather have beaten Edmonton with two all-stars and no (awards) nominations."

Montreal QB Anthony Calvillo and B.C. pivot Casey Printers are finalists for the CFL's most outstanding player award.

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REPLAY IN REVIEW

The CFL West Division nominee for special teams player of the year is Keith Stokes of Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Here's a look at the man known as "Replay."

- led CFL with 80 punt returns for 949 yards and four touchdowns

- led CFL in kickoff returns with 56 for 1,112 and one TD

- third in CFL in combined yardage with 2,594

- set club record with four punt return TDs

- added 22 receptions for 367 yards and two TDs on offence

Bomber All Stars

Charles Roberts, RB (unanimous)

Tom Canada, DE

Joe Fleming, DL

Wes Lysack, S

Keith Stokes, special teams


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