A hunger for football

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

The hunger pangs have been plaguing him for nigh on two years now.

And Quentin McCord is yearning to satisfy that appetite to return to pro football, even if it means playing in Canada.

McCord was sidelined by a sprained ankle and spent the entire 2004 NFL season on the Oakland Raiders injured reserved. The import wide receiver also spent the entire 2005 season waiting by the phone for someone to call.

This year, McCord left a girlfriend and his two young children (daughter, 4, and son, 2) in Atlanta to take a shot at cracking the Winnipeg Blue Bombers roster.

LEAVING THE HARD PART

"That was the hard part, just leaving," McCord said yesterday. "At the same time, they knew that this is what I wanted to do and I had to take care of business. So, I miss them but daddy's got to eat. Daddy's got to feed them.

"Man, I'm super hungry. This is a great opportunity for me. When you sit at home and all you do is watch football, a normal 9-to-5 job is not what you really want to do. You want to work out, stay in shape, sweat and do that type of stuff. And that's what's fun to me -- competing. I didn't want to give up so, I came over here and I'm trying to make the most of it."

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Kentucky product got off to a slow start at the Winnipeg camp due to a back sprain, which had some observers (such as yours truly) writing him off. But McCord has really come on lately. In fact, he is apparently close to landing a starting spot. Bombers head coach Doug Berry confirmed that McCord has really stepped up since returning from injury.

"And that's to his benefit," Berry said. "We've asked him to be at three different positions now so, he's learning both receiver positions into the boundary and the inside slot to the fields. We want to take a good look at Quentin McCord."

And the ex-NFLer could not be more grateful.

"This is the closest thing to the NFL and it's a blessing," said McCord, who caught nine passes for 121 yards in nine games for Atlanta in 2003. McCord, 27, also played nine games for the Falcons in 2002 and seven in 2001.

"I talked to a couple of guys (like linebacker Barrin Simpson) who had some connections over here and I told them I was still interested and now, I'm here," he said.

After the slow start, McCord is starting to feel more comfortable and it shows on the gridiron.

"I'm not thinking as much," he said.

"I still miss a couple of assignments every now and then but it's not that big. I've just got to polish it up and I'll be all right.

"It's a fine game and coach Berry has a great offence in mind. He's always in the attack mode. I like that, keeping the defence on their heels so, it's going to be fun."

But it's McCord's open-field moves that have the Bombers drooling.

"I like the wider field, too and that's the thing, I run after the catch," McCord said. "That's my specialty, as well as going deep. Hopefully, I can just fit in and make some things happen."

And feed those cravings.


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