Rookies eager to prove themselves

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

Chijioke Onyenegecha has three days to get a feel for Canadian football, Canad Inns Stadium and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive playbook.

Other than that, the rookie Bombers defensive back doesn't have much on his plate.

Onyenegecha and approximately 25 other first-year Bomber CFLers will hit the Canad Inns Stadium field today at 10:30 a.m. for the start of the team's rookie camp. Also joining them will be veteran quarterbacks Kevin Glenn, Brad Banks and Ryan Dinwiddie.

The rookies had their first official meeting with Bomber brass last night at the stadium, and Onyenegecha, who is in Canada for the first time, is glad to have the opportunity to get into a groove before the veterans arrive on Sunday.

"We gotta get a feel for things and figure out what's going on and where to go and how to be on time and know the facilities and learn everything real quick," Onyenegecha said last night at Canad Inns-Polo Park, the team's camp hotel. "It's an advantage we're here three days early because the veterans know everything.

"They're right on time, they know where to go and how everything works, and we gotta figure it out and catch up as soon as possible."

Receiver Kerry Johnson, another first-time visitor to Canada, is also thankful for being able to get on the field in advance of the vets.

"It gives the young guys and the new guys a chance to get in and learn the system and get a head start before everybody else gets in," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting out there and especially get some reps before all the other guys get in."

Johnson hasn't played meaningful football since injuring his knee in Atlanta Falcons training camp in 2005, so he's itching to start catching some passes.

"I'm excited. I'm ready to get back on the field," the 6-foot-3, 202-pound Ole Miss product said. "I really don't know what to expect. I'm just ready to get out and compete.

"A lot of guys have just been waiting for this time of the year, so obviously we want to get out there and have fun."

And just like every other year, the newcomers north of the border talk about the bigger CFL field like it's the Loch Ness Monster. They've heard stories about it, but they haven't seen it.

"I heard it's pretty big," Onyenegecha said. "We've been talking about it, some of the guys."


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