Honorary 'Pegger

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Charles Roberts is now an honorary Winnipegger after recently completing his first Manitoba winter -- and living to tell about it!

"I learned you need a pair of ice skates," the Bombers running back said yesterday. "It's one of the activities you can do in the winter, right?

"I've also learned you gotta plug in your car when it gets 50 below."

Roberts would have been easy to spot on the snowy streets of the 'Peg this past winter. His car would have been the one with the California plates ... and an extension cord dragging behind it.

"I drove away a couple times with the cord still plugged in," Roberts said with a chuckle. "But I heard that even natives of Winnipeg do that, though."

Roberts is correct on that one, just as he has been bang-on for much of his six-year career in Blue and Gold. The man they call Blink, while at times temperamental, has been nothing short of brilliant on the field.

The 5-foot-6, 171-pound water bug has produced back-to-back seasons of at least 1,600 rushing yards, and he will attempt to capture his third straight CFL rushing title this year.

Even bigger than that, however, is the fact that Roberts needs a mere 771 yards -- about nine games' worth -- to hurdle Leo Lewis and become Winnipeg's all-time leading rusher.

The Sacramento native should have a lot of help in reaching that goal, as the Bombers are poised to piece together one of the best offensive lines since Roberts arrived in Canada in 2001.

"I'm excited," Roberts said. "I'm just trying to get through this camp first. They say it's supposed to get easier as you get more years in the league, but it's not. It's not easier.

"The practice part is easy. You're used to being able to practise and go home, and now I gotta practise, go home, come back, go to dinner, come back. It's like a real job now for these next two weeks. It's pretty bad right now."

If Roberts can survive a Winnipeg winter, the two-a-days and team meetings should be a breeze. The time demands, however, are just as bad for his golf game as the -35 C temperatures were during the off-season.

In an effort to keep his swing sharp, Roberts spent a lot of his spare time hitting balls at the Golf Dome.

"The Golf Dome is making a killing in the winter," said Roberts, who decided to remain in Winnipeg to give his family some stability. "It's like $30 for an hour. They're making a lot of money in there."

The two-time CFL rushing king couldn't get a few sessions comped?

"You would think I could get at least one or two sessions on the house," the 28-year-old said with a sly smile.

When he wasn't pounding golf balls into the oversized balloon, Roberts was skating with his family at the Forks or on a duck pond in St. Vital, or playing against school kids with the Bomber basketball team.

"I don't see it being anything long-term," Roberts said of enduring Winnipeg winters for the rest of his life. "But it was fun. It was a nice experience."


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