Year off instils hunger

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

It didn't take a year away from the CFL for Sean Woodson to realize he wasn't ready to retire.

"It would have sucked to end my career at 1-17, that left a pretty sour taste in my mouth," said Woodson, referring to the disappointing 2003 campaign with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. "When you lose, there are going to be changes. I knew that I wasn't necessarily ready to stop playing and I'm glad I made the decision to come back to try to win a Grey Cup."

So are the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who provided the outside linebacker with a new home.

SECOND IN THE LEAGUE

Woodson, who is second in the CFL in tackles with 43, is coming off a six-tackle game, one special teams tackle, one knockdown and one quarterback sack in a 44-14 romp over the Tiger-Cats.

"Sean had his best game of the year against his previous team this past weekend and I told him we're playing Hamilton again this week, next week and the week after," Blue Bombers head coach Jim Daley quipped yesterday. "The way he played with speed and real aggressiveness, that's what we want from him every week. He's a very smart guy, he's physical and he's a good tackler. I'll just keep telling him we're playing the Tabbies."

Woodson said the effort had nothing to do with the team he was playing against.

"At this point in the season, it wouldn't have mattered who we were playing -- it was a must-win game," said Woodson. "From here on out, we're in that situation. It doesn't matter who's on the schedule, we're going to bring the same type of intensity every week because we're a great team and we're trying to prove that. We've got a lot to play for."

The next chance to do so is Friday against the Ottawa Renegades, who lead the East Division with a record of 5-3.

After getting released by the Tiger-Cats last season, Woodson returned home to Jackson, Miss., and did a bunch of things to stay busy.

"I was coaching as a defensive co-ordinator at a high school, I started to work in the insurance business and did a little bit of personal training," he said. "I was all over the place."

Spending a year away from playing professional football was tough, but was not foreign to him.

"I sat out a year between going to the NFL and coming up here (to the CFL), so it wasn't a new thing for me," said Woodson. "It was just a matter of getting myself ready to play. I've played up here for four years so I knew how much running and all that to prepare for. That wasn't a big adjustment."

Fortunately for Woodson, the Blue Bombers came calling during the off-season and offered him a shot in training camp.

"Winnipeg traditionally has always had great defences," said Woodson. "I looked at some of the moves they were making and thought it would be a great place to try to fit in and be a team player. This is a great scheme, it allows everybody on defence to make plays."

Fellow Blue Bombers linebacker Ryland Wickman says Woodson has made quite an impact on the defence.

"He brings a lot of hustle to the team, he's good on defence and on special teams," said Wickman. "When you sit out that year, you realize how much you miss the game. It definitely instils some kind of hunger and determination to show everybody you can still play football. He's been doing a good job."


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