Ready to impress

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Although he is attending his second CFL training camp, Blair Atkinson will appear in his first game, albeit pre-season, when Winnipeg plays host to the Montreal Alouettes tomorrow night.

"This is my first camp where I'm trying to make the team and as far as that goes, it's different from the first one I was at because now, it's more pressure," said Atkinson, who attended a B.C. Lions camp as a junior. "I'm just trying to go out there and do everything I can. It's not as much learning, although I am learning, it's more, 'Let's go out there and show them what I can do.'

"I'm very excited about it. I'm starting to get a little nervous about it as well. It's a chance to go out on the field after watching a game I've been watching my whole life and have a chance to play in it."

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound slotback did not get into an exhibition game with the Leos due to an injury and he got off to a slow start here due to another injury.

"He's been real strong here at the end," said Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry. "He's looking good, he's a big target and I have some playing time for him."

Although he hopes to crack the Bombers roster this year, the University of Manitoba product still has two years of college eligibility left.

"I can always go back," said Atkinson, 25. "They've (Bisons) got a great chance next year to win a Vanier (Cup) and that wouldn't be too bad, either."

CAMP OVER: Berry, by the way, is anxious to see his recruits under the bright lights.

"We're ready to play a game," he said. "We're tired of looking at each other, lining up against each other. Just time to get it on with somebody different. I'm glad camp is over, I'm glad doubles (two-a-days) are over. I like the attitude, I think the guys are ready to play."

Some had better be ready to play tomorrow or there will be no more tomorrows for them here.

"I'm evaluating them on one issue, and that's hustle.," Berry said. "I don't want to see any loafing.

"I'm going to be looking at effort because that's the way guys are going to make this team great -- through effort time and time again."

BIGGEST BATTLES: Berry admitted that a number of starting defensive positions are still up for grabs, including corner back, halfback, free safety, both outside linebackers and one defensive tackle.

Berry is still undecided on who will start where on the offensive line and injuries to Obby Khan and Val St. Germain will delay those decisions. The quarterbacks and receivers will also be evaluated.

Berry has also yet to decide whether to employ all four quarterbacks versus Montreal.

SALES UP: The Bombers surpassed the 18,000 mark in season ticket sales yesterday, reaching a total of 18,051. Last year's total was around 17,500.


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