Blue Barrin flies again

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

This Barrin of the Blue Bombers only had one plea: Let me be me.

And while it is only two games into the CFL season, Winnipeg's new middle linebacker is already paying royal dividends to the team that signed him as a free agent last winter.

The revamped defensive dozen has jelled surprisingly quickly against the two top teams in the East -- Montreal and Toronto -- and Barrin Simpson has been integral to the turnaround of a defence that set the all-time CFL record for futility in 2005.

"He's a solid player and the captain of our defence," said Bombers GM Brendan Taman. "He plays with a lot of passion and he makes plays."

Simpson recorded seven defensive tackles and a sack against Montreal. Although he only had one defensive tackle against Toronto on Friday, it was one that forced Toronto to turn the ball over on downs late in the game.

He also had a forced fumble and was part of the gang of tacklers that so often greeted Argos tailback Ricky Williams. He was the leader of the defenders who held Toronto to a measly 72 yards net offence and just six first downs.

The Mississippi State product is already rejuvenated in Blue and Gold and his enthusiasm is rubbing off.

"(Defensive co-ordinator Greg) Marshall puts us into position to make plays -- and he lets us play," Simpson said. "My whole thing is just let me play. Let me go out there and have fun. It's not all about the money, it's about going out there and accomplishing your goals as a team and as individuals and winning that championship.

"So, we're having fun and you could tell by the way we played (Friday). We were flying all over the place. And it's not going to be a one-time thing."

Simpson, 28, felt shackled in the Lions den.

"I just felt I wasn't allowed to just go out there and play football," he explained. "Coach Marshall gives you the scheme for what we're going to do this week, then he says, 'Go out there and do what you do.' When I was in B.C., they'd give you the scheme and they'd say, 'You can't do this and you can't do that.'

"In B.C., it was a hell of a lot of things that hindered me from being me. It wasn't like I wanted to be above the team or anything, I was just saying, 'Let me play.'"

Here, Simpson's voice rises dramatically.

"I'm usually the guy who brings all the energy and the last couple of years, you didn't see that in B.C. because I felt that I was handicapped because you're not allowing me to be me," said the 6-foot, 243-pound import.

"I understand that (B.C. head coach/GM Wally Buono) coaches the way he coaches. That's why Wally wins. But for me, it was just an uncomfortable situation and I couldn't be the best player I could be or that the team needed me to be in B.C. because of that reason."

The entire defensive dozen has that freedom in Winnipeg.

"They turn ya loose," Simpson said. "And it's exciting to watch. It's exciting to be out there the way we're flying around like crazed dogs and hitting people and getting after people. And you can tell we feel very comfortable in our schemes.

"We were hungry out there and you've got to be that way to win. Defence wins championships."

Then again, the Bombers did lose to an injury-ravaged Alouettes squad and beat a Toronto team forced to start its backup quarterback.

"I feel like everybody's saying, 'Oh, they did it again this week, let's see if they can do it again next week,'" Simpson said. "But respect is not given, it's earned. And we plan to earn it."


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