First pick a pick-me-up

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

Neil McKinlay got a memorable souvenir on Friday.

Whether he'll be allowed to put it up on a mantle at home at some point is still up for debate.

WREAKED HAVOC

McKinlay, who sat out the previous two games with a foot injury, was back wreaking havoc on special teams for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in last Friday night's 29-0 shellacking of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

McKinlay was in the right place at the right time to record the first interception of his CFL career.

With the Tabbies attempting a fake punt, McKinlay stepped up and intercepted the errant pass from Pat Fleming to help the Blue and Gold take over.

"It's nice to get the first one but there's an asterisk beside it because it was thrown by a kicker -- but it still goes down in the column," said McKinlay, now in his third season with the Blue Bombers. "I've got it (the ball) somewhere around here. We'll see if the wife will let me put it up somewhere. I'm not the king of the decor of the home."

Missing the two games with injuries was especially tough for McKinlay, who had an iron man streak that stretched back seven years to his days with Simon Fraser.

"That broke my 40-game streak, so it's nice to be back and back in the flow," said McKinlay, who led the Blue Bombers with 19 special teams tackles and also made one start at middle linebacker. "It's bearable now. I can't complain."

When the Blue Bombers signed Barrin Simpson during the off-season, McKinlay understood he would be spending most of his time on special teams.

"Having Barrin here is great for me, I can learn from him," said McKinlay. "You roll with it. I had no qualms or anything like that. Being as young as I am, watching him practise and play every week is a privilege.

"Barrin is one of those guys who isn't afraid to answer a question or point something out. He's a professional guy, he comes to work every day. It's like having another coach on the field essentially. He knows what's going on and where people are supposed to be. He's pretty much the head of our defence. He runs the show and just leads by example."

Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry thought McKinlay looked good in his return to the lineup and agrees it will be beneficial for him to see Simpson on an everyday basis.

"He didn't miss a beat," said Berry. "As Neil watches Barrin play, he can see how Barrin does things and maybe apply some of those things to his own game."


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