Learning from the past

Former Green Bay Packer Andrae Thurman is trying to revive his pro football career in the CFL....

Former Green Bay Packer Andrae Thurman is trying to revive his pro football career in the CFL. (Winnipeg Sun/Brian Donogh)

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

It was mere months ago that the speedster was catching passes and fielding kicks for the Green Bay Packers of the vaunted NFL.

Now, import wide receiver Andrae Thurman is trying to revive his pro career in a strange city in an even stranger football league.

"I have to forget about the past, well, not forget about it but learn from it," Thurman suggested at Blue Bombers training camp yesterday. "Coming here, I've got a fresh opportunity to start. I have this chip on my shoulder as big as, I don't know what."

As big as a Cheesehead?

"As a free agent in the NFL, you know it's always an uphill battle," the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Southern Oregon product said bitterly. "You have slim and none chances of making the team and just slight room for error. So, whenever you make a mistake, it kind of gets magnified and that's just the way it is in the NFL."

For example, Thurman dropped a punt that led to a key field goal in one game last year.

"I'm definitely ready to get out there and prove myself," he said.

Thurman, 25, certainly seems like the real deal and veteran Bomber slotback Milt Stegall has already dubbed him, 'D.J. Quick,' after the rapper of the same name.

Although he arrived in camp with impressive credentials and drew raves in rookie camp, Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry is waiting for Thurman to take the next, and most important, step.

"Originally, he was a flash that looked real good but I'm still waiting for him to make things happen," Berry said. "Be a make-it-happen guy, something like a (Calgary receiver) Jeremaine Copeland. Jeremaine Copeland makes things happen and I would like to see that from Thurman, and I haven't seen it yet. Not that I'm trying to downgrade his play but I would like to see a bit more coming from that position -- from him in particular. But it's early in the offence and it takes a while to learn all the things we're trying to do."

Not only is Thurman still learning the offence, he is still boning up on the CFL.

"Twelve people on the field is all new to me," he said. "One point (rouge) is new to me. Everyday, just learning new stuff. Repetition is the key. Just continue to grow, always sponge everything I can and just continue to learn, and continue to develop. Then, I can let my athletic ability take over in game situations."

In Green Bay last season, Thurman caught seven passes for 92 yards, returned 10 kickoffs for 178 yards and nine punts for another 31. And like many ex-NFLers who landed in Canada before him, Thurman is determined to earn his way back some day.

"That's a future goal of mine but right now, my biggest goal right here is to help the team win," Thurman said. "Stegall was talking about this being his last year here and he wants to finish it off with a Grey Cup championship and that's something that encourages me to get better. I know if I can get better and improve myself as an individual, I can help the team out. If we all work with each other and grow individually, then we get better as a team."


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