Thurman a fine catch

Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Andrae Thurman sticks out his tongue at practice last week at...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Andrae Thurman sticks out his tongue at practice last week at CanadInns Stadium. The Bombers are impressed with Thurman through five games of his first CFL season. (Winnipeg Sun/Chris Procaylo)

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

Milt Stegall calls him intense, and Doug Berry calls him confident.

Add it all up, and Andrae Thurman is a receiver the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are glad they caught.

The 25-year-old Arizona native with the short dreadlocks comes across as a laid-back kind of guy in the locker-room, but it's a different story when he straps on the pads.

Whether it's practice or a game, Thurman turns things up a notch or two when it's time to play ball.

"I'm a very emotional player," Thurman said.

"I love the game of football, whether it's blocking or running or catching the ball."

Thurman has 17 catches for 194 yards through five games of his first CFL season. He's also thrown a solid block or two.

Stegall, the Bombers' future hall of fame slotback, is impressed with Thurman's football aptitudes.

"He's a total receiver, because he doesn't mind blocking, mixing it up, cracking, cutting guys," Stegall said.

"... He's not complaining because he's not the number one receiver on the team. He understands that, but when he gets his chances he takes full advantage of them."

Berry, the Bombers head coach, said Thurman's attitude reminds him of Calgary Stampeders slotback Jeremaine Copeland, whom Berry coached in Montreal.

"That's something that I always admired in (Copeland), is that he had a very confident air about himself and played that way," Berry said. "And Andrae Thurman is coming to prove that he's capable of doing the same thing. There's nothing wrong with that.

"It's not an arrogant cockiness, but it's a confident cockiness, and I like that in people."

It's also easy for a coach to like a player who understands his role on the team, who is always trying to learn and who looks up to the veterans.

Thurman, despite going undrafted in the NFL, spent the past two seasons with the Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans. He made a point of watching his successful teammates, including quarterback Brett Favre and receiver Donald Driver in Green Bay and now Stegall in Winnipeg.

"They're all consistent," Thurman said. "They all work hard in practice. They don't come to practice and kind of take it off."

Neither does Thurman, and that usually results in a little trash talk or letting his teammates know when he makes a great play.

"It's not cockiness; it's a confidence," he said. "It's a swagger that I have, and I've always had it. I practise hard, so I tend to play well. It all starts early in the week."

And as the weeks progress, Thurman hopes to snag his first CFL touchdown and get more involved in the offence.

"Right now it hasn't been asked of me to make the plays that I feel like I know I'm capable of making," said Thurman, who feels no CFL defender can cover him man-to-man. "As long as we chalk up Ws and as long as we can get back on a roll, I have no problem with it.

"But then, needless to say, I would definitely like to be making big plays down the road."


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