Best of the Blue

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

Obby Khan was shocked, Arjei Franklin was delighted, Doug Brown was satisfied, Albert Johnson III was grateful and Barrin Simpson was appreciative.

That was the wide range of emotion in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers locker-room yesterday after the team's award nominees were announced.

The local chapter of the Football Reporters of Canada voted running back Charles Roberts as the team's most outstanding player nominee (page 56), and it dished out honours to the five aforementioned players as well.

All six will now go up against the other East Division nominees in their respective categories, and the division winners will go head-to-head at the CFL Player Awards ceremony on Nov. 16 in Winnipeg.

Here's a closer look at the other Bomber nominees:

DOUG BROWN, CANADIAN

The CFL's top Canuck in 2001 is having another banner year. Brown, who has been nominated for the honour four times, has the most tackles among all interior defensive linemen and is a big reason why the Bombers are third in sacks.

"We've got such a strong group of players in here -- Canadian and American -- so it just means that much more to you when you're chosen amongst them," Brown said, "because there's so many guys that deserve the award."

ARJEI FRANKLIN, ROOKIE

The former University of Windsor star receiver has started five games for the Blue and Gold and has hauled in 13 passes for 128 yards. He has also been used on the punt and kickoff returns teams.

"I had rough times, and I had good times as well," Franklin said. "That's just how a rookie season is supposed to be. It would be naive to think it would only be good."

ALBERT JOHNSON III, SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER

The CFL's top special teams player in 2000 leads the league in punt-return yardage and is fourth in kick-return yardage. Among all primary returners, Johnson is fourth in kick-return average and fifth in punt-return average. He is also fifth in the league in combined yards.

"If you look at the average drive start of the offence compared to the league, I'm pretty sure we gotta be up at the top," he said. "So I take pride in that."

OBBY KHAN, OFFENSIVE LINEMAN

The only member of the O-line to start all 17 games this season, Khan, a centre, helped Roberts win the league rushing title and played a part in allowing the second-fewest sacks in the league with one game remaining.

"It feels great. It's surprising. I'm still in shock," said the first-time nominee. "I didn't know I was in the running for it. When you have an offensive line with Val St. Germain and (Mike) Abou-Mechrek on there, it's quite a surprise and a huge honour for myself."

BARRIN SIMPSON, DEFENSIVE PLAYER

The middle linebacker, who is the heart and soul of the Bombers defence, leads the CFL with 103 tackles. The team's key free-agent signing last winter also has three sacks, eight special teams tackles and two pass knockdowns.

"It's just a total testament of the way that our defensive line played," said Simpson, who was B.C.'s top defensive player in 2001 and 2003. "Everything that I got this year is because them hogs I got up front.

"Those guys, they make us go. If they play well, we play great."


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