'C.R.' wants the ball

Charles Roberts seems to be unhappy with everything from his jersey number, to his number of...

Charles Roberts seems to be unhappy with everything from his jersey number, to his number of carries in the season opener, to a league which fined him for wearing his socks too high, to the name his parents gave him. (Winnipeg Sun File/Brian Donogh)

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

Charles Roberts was at his enigmatic best yesterday, saying he is going to change his jersey number, his name and (he hopes) the number of times he carries the football.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back also was fined by the CFL yesterday for wearing his socks too high in last Friday's season-opener in Montreal.

Perhaps that is why the 5-foot-6 scatback was so cranky.

"I'm just irritable. I'm an irritable guy," said Roberts. "I'm just very irritable all the time. I ain't gonna say too much today."

Roberts proceeded to stand up on his locker-room stool and scream, "No. 1 is for sale!"

That's right. Roberts wants to change his jersey number from 1 to 32, which are the same digits he wore at Sacramento State.

Bombers head coach Doug Berry switched the practice jerseys this week, with the offence wearing blue and the defence wearing white. Roberts ended up with No. 32 yesterday, so he plans on sticking with it.

SUPERSTITIOUS

"I'm a superstitious guy," he said. "If I practise in it, I play in it. ... I'm just gonna go retro on 'em. That's what I wore in college. There were 6,553 yards worth of 32 in college, so ...

"When I don this No. 32 this week and bust out with 200 yards, they're gonna be flocking to The Bomber Store trying to get a 32 jersey."

It's unlikely, however, that the Bombers or the CFL will let him change his number due to marketing implications.

Roberts, who also wants to change his name to C.R. ("Like O.J.," he said), hopes the number switch will trick his coaches into getting him more involved in the game plan.

Roberts carried the ball just 14 times (officially only 12 because of penalties) for 71 yards during Friday's loss to the Alouettes.

"They forgot about the No. 1, so I gotta do something," said Roberts.

Seriously, though, Roberts would like to get the ball more consistently than he did last week. He had five carries on the opening drive and just nine the rest of the way.

"We had Charles in a good rhythm in the first half," said Berry. "We just got so much show-blitz in the second half that it's hard to run into show-blitz and was probably some of the reason that we didn't get him the ball as much as we'd like to have."

Roberts should have more success in Winnipeg's home-opener on Friday against the Toronto Argonauts. Berry wants Roberts to get the ball 20 times a game, and the tailback has a 108-yard rushing average against the Argos since 2002.

Roberts' rant yesterday might suggest he believes his premonitions of getting fewer touches in the Berry offence are coming true. Slotback Milt Stegall believes Roberts has matured, citing the 27-year-old's marriage last month as an example, but Turtle Man believes Blink still has a ways to go in that department.

"Charlie's sort of like me," said Stegall. "My thing is you come to the fork in the road and you go straight. Charlie, he comes to the fork in the road and I don't know what he does.

"He definitely doesn't go right or left. He doesn't know where he wants to go."

For now, he wants to be called C.R., wear No. 32 and carry the ball more.

After that, it's anybody's guess.

You just never know with C.R.


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