Blue D gets heart back

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:45 AM ET

His injury-induced absence sure made the heart of the Winnipeg defence grow fonder for him.

But time will only tell whether that will translate into a fatter contract for Doug Brown from the Blue Bombers.

The Canadian defensive lineman missed four CFL games -- the first four of his pro career -- due to a ruptured tendon in his foot, three of them losses. Club GM Brendan Taman admitted that Brown's value was underscored after the second loss. And that is ammunition Brown can use the next time he sits down at the negotiating table.

"I've got a whole other option year before I can even think about that," Brown responded with a laugh yesterday. "It's week by week with football. I had a reasonably strong start to the season but now I'm back out there and you've got to show your mettle every time. It might be a little more challenging this week but hopefully, I can pick up where I left off."

'WORSE WHEN WATCHING'

Brown will finally return to action when the Bombers play the Alouettes in Montreal tomorrow.

"It's just worse when you're watching and you wonder if you could have made a difference, and that's the hardest part -- especially the magnitude of the games that I missed," said the 6-foot-7, 302-pound Simon Fraser product. "It may have been different if it had been the end of the year or right at the beginning as opposed to the middle when we really need to make a push. So, it was extremely frustrating. It was tough."

The Bombers lost three straight, one to Hamilton and to Saskatchewan back-to-back, at a time when just one victory would have kept their playoff hopes realistically alive.

"The rest of my body is chomping at the bit," Brown said.

"The only part that's a little hesitant is my left foot. But it's been a month off and there's a lot of aggression that builds up inside you when you're used to having more contact going on. So, I'm pretty excited to get back out there -- especially against Montreal, too. It's going to be fantastic. It's going to be a huge game."

80-90%

Brown, who said the foot was 80-90% after yesterday's practice, must still wear a tailor-made insert in his shoe both on and off the field.

"It supports the area where my tendon was ruptured in my foot so it kind of displaces the impact every time my sole hits the ground and it also helps some weakness that I had because of that tendon rupture," he explained. "It helps support me in different movements, like my lateral movement. It changes the angle that my foot hits the ground and has some rigid parts to it, too in terms of not letting my foot fold over. It's preventative, supportive and cushioning all at the same time so, it's quite a little instrument that I've got there."

And he has no spare.

"I wear it everywhere, man, I don't leave home without it," Brown said. "I take it from one shoe to the next. As a safeguard, I sleep with it under my pillow when I'm not wearing it."

Neither Brown nor the coaches are concerned that the injury will flare up during tomorrow's game.

"Once we go to Montreal, he's playing and if we were wrong and he was brought back to the roster too early, that's our tough luck," said head coach Jim Daley. "We expect (Brown) to have a great game. We expect him to be fresh-legged. We expect him to be a big-time player for us."


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