Cedric Dickerson entered free agency as a defensive back, and he left it as a linebacker.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers re-signed Dickerson yesterday and announced he will be at outside linebacker when training camp begins in two months.
New head coach Doug Berry is transforming the Bomber linebacking corps from a bunch of run stoppers to a gang of pass rushers and cover men.
"We gotta cover first. This is a passing league. It's not a running league," said Berry. "We've got enough run stoppers with our front four and Barrin Simpson. Now we'll find out who can cover."
Dickerson, who played halfback in his first two seasons, is confident in his cover abilities and is excited about the move. He was a strong safety in college, and that essentially translates into outside linebacker in the CFL.
"I'm still big enough and physical enough to take on ball carriers and to blitz the passer," Dickerson said yesterday from Tampa, Fla. "To me, that's how you're successful in the Canadian Football League, and that's what I'm all about.
"If it's going to make the team better, I'm with it."
Bomber GM Brendan Taman informed Dickerson, 25, about the position change a month and a half ago. Dickerson, who is 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, immediately switched his off-season training to focus on muscle building.
He runs seven miles a week, he has put on five pounds of muscle since February, and he's ready to get down and dirty.
"Being in the box is nothing new to me," said Dickerson. "I pride myself on being physical."
The Bombers had a rough ride in 2005, but Dickerson's season was even worse. He broke his left hand on opening night in Saskatchewan and then dislocated his right wrist in his first game back on Aug. 1 against Toronto.
Yet he still found time to record 11 tackles in those two games.
"I've got so much to prove," said Dickerson. "Winnipeg, they showed love, and they stuck by me. I still feel like I've got so much more respect to gain."
Dickerson's contract, believed to be worth approximately $60,000, is a two-year deal, including the option.
FULL STEAM AHEAD: Berry said the Bombers' offensive playbook is almost finished, while the defensive schemes are approximately 50% complete.
The coach wants to give his assistants some time off before training camp begins in late May, so they've already begun scripting practices and scouting opponents.
"The more you do before going into training camp, the easier training camp is on us," said Berry. "Gosh, I always hated staying up at 11 or 12 o'clock at night and trying to do tomorrow's script for practice."
Early-bird Berry is getting up at 5 a.m. these days, he is painting the walls of his new house a half hour later and is in the office by 8 o'clock.
LATE HIT: Rumour has it former Bomber LB Lamar McGriggs will sign with the Ottawa Renegades -- if they don't fold.