Blue lead East with five all-stars

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Doug Brown was a little apprehensive when Greg Marshall unveiled the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive scheme in the spring.

"I wasn't thrilled about being a full-time nose tackle, because I've never done that before and nose tackles traditionally get double-teamed about 90% of the time," Brown said yesterday. "I wasn't exactly jumping for joy when I heard that that's how he was planning on utilizing me."

Brown will now do anything Marshall says, because yesterday he was unveiled as one of Winnipeg's five CFL all-stars, as voted upon by the Football Reporters of Canada.

Other Bombers named to the CFL's top team were running back Charles Roberts, slotback Milt Stegall, linebacker Barrin Simpson and kick returner Albert Johnson III.

No East Division team produced more all-stars than the Bombers. Toronto had 11 division all-stars but managed to put only three on the league-wide squad. Montreal had one, while Hamilton had none.

The five all-star nods are the most the Bombers have had since 2002, when they also had five.

"When a team is doing well, individuals get recognized," Bombers head coach Doug Berry said. "Not only is this a tribute to the guys individually, but it's a tribute to the team."

Roberts, the league's rushing king with 1,609 yards, has been an all-star in each of his six seasons

Stegall nabbed his sixth honour after hauling in 79 catches for 1,269 yards and seven touchdowns.

Simpson, who had a league-high 110 tackles, is 5-for-6 in his career after missing out last season in B.C.

Johnson is 2-for-2 in his career (he also got the nod in 2000) after finishing second in combined yards and first in punt-return yards this season.

Brown, the East's most outstanding Canadian this season, was a CFL all-star his first two seasons but was on the outside looking in the last three. Brown figured it would be four in a row when Berry hired Marshall to be his defensive co-ordinator.

"I had a little trepidation going into it, but once I bought into his system, it's probably the best defence I've played in," Brown said.

Brown led all defensive linemen with 51 tackles and added three sacks. The Marshall plan often called for him to be in an upright position instead of a three-point stance at the snap, which made a difference.

"There's so many different looks in the scheme," Brown said, "and I get just as many opportunities being a nose tackle in his front as I did when I was in the three technique for the last five years with the Blue Bombers."

Brown also gave credit to defensive line coach Richard Harris, his teammates in the front seven and former Bomber trainer Jeff Fisher, who works out Brown in the off-season.

"Jeffrey, he's obviously been involved in the CFL for a while, so he really understood what kind of conditioning you need to be in in order to be successful in this league," Brown said.

Brown could be a free agent in February, but he doesn't think his all-star nod will get him any more cash on the open market.

"If the all-star selectors were the same guys that signed the contracts, I guess it wouldn't hurt," he said, "but they're not, unfortunately."


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