Bleed Blue & Gold

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

Derick Armstrong's agent made a prophetic statement back in March.

"It's not even in the realm of possibility that he will be in Saskatchewan this year," Paul Sheehy told The (Regina) Leader-Post on March 3.

It turns out Sheehy was right.

Sort of.

The agent was confident that Armstrong, a CFL all-star with the Roughriders in 2002, would stick with the NFL's Houston Texans for a fourth consecutive season.

It didn't turn out that way, and now the 6-foot-2, 216-pound wide receiver will start this Sunday for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers against the Montreal Alouettes.

The Bombers yesterday signed Armstrong to a two-year contract, including an option. That means he could pursue an NFL job again at the end of this season, but he's not thinking about his long-term plans right now.

"I don't know right now, but I'll tell you: I'm happy to be here, and I'm looking forward to just playing right now," Armstrong said. "I'm not thinking about the south."

"I had a great run (in the NFL). I did well enough when I was down there to be able take care of my family and come back up here and just play football."

TOO RICH FOR THEIR BLOOD

The Roughriders also pursued Armstrong after the Texans released him last month, but GM Eric Tillman insinuated to The Leader-Post that the 27-year-old was too rich for their blood. The Leader-Post suggested yesterday that Armstrong is being paid $10,000 per game for the rest of the season, which would work out to $180,000 over a full season.

Bombers GM Brendan Taman denied that claim yesterday. It's believed Armstrong will earn approximately $7,000 per contest, which works out to about $125,000 per year.

Armstrong said his Roughrider days are over and he is ready to bleed Blue and Gold.

"I'm not thinking about them no more," he said. "I'm just here to start over with a new team.

"Next year at the Labour Day Classic, we'll be there."

The Bombers hope Armstrong will inject some much-needed life into their receiving corps, which has struggled this season -- aside from the usual exploits of all-star slotback Milt Stegall.

Armstrong, who is looking forward to lining up beside the revered Stegall at short-side wide receiver, had 70 catches for 1,104 yards and five touchdowns in 2002 for the Roughriders.

Approximately half of the passes that Armstrong caught for the Roughriders in 2001 and 2002 came off the arm of current Bombers quarterback Kevin Glenn, who is excited to have his former teammate in the fold.

"He's fast, he's strong, he goes up and attacks the ball. He doesn't wait for it to come to him," Glenn said. "He's tough, he blocks ... he does it all."

Armstrong, who will replace Chris Brazzell (ankle) for Sunday's game, is looking forward to resurrecting some of that 2002 magic with Glenn.

"Once we get into it," Armstrong said, "I think we'll have that chemistry again."

Bombers head coach Doug Berry liked what he saw from the Jasper, Texas, product during yesterday's abbreviated workout at Canad Inns Stadium.

"You can see he's smooth, and, talking a little offence with him, I'm pretty sure he's gonna catch on pretty quick to what we're doing," Berry said. "He seems like a pretty intelligent guy."

When asked if he knew about Winnipeg's desperate need for receiver help, Armstrong didn't sound too concerned.

"I always live up to pressure. That's part of my character," he said. "I'm just here to help our team win, and if that means I have to go up and get the ball and make plays through traffic, then that's what I'm going to do."


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