Can he be like Ike?

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

He wants to be like Ike.

There are those who say replacing Ike Charlton at outside linebacker for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be impossible.

Chris Martin is hoping to prove them wrong. In fact, Martin has a lot to prove as he attempts to revitalize his pro football career this season.

"I got released (by Hamilton) early last season; I was trying to find another home and things just didn't work out," said Martin, who has a wife and two young sons. "So I sat back and thought about where I was in my life with my family and my football career and decided that I still have a few more good years in me.

"So when Winnipeg contacted me, I was real happy to hear from them and I was real, real excited to sign with them and get back into playing ball again."

The Bombers signed him as insurance back in December, knowing they could lose Charlton as a free agent to the NFL. He signed with Detroit.

Martin, 30, earned a reputation as a hard-hitting defensive back who could cover and was taken aback when the Tiger-Cats sent him packing, especially just two games into the 2006 season.

"That's just the nature of the beast and the business that we're in," said the 6-foot, 197-pound import. "I was very surprised myself but I'm just glad to be in Winnipeg and have the chance to play ball again."

Martin recorded 45 defensive tackles, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, two quarterback sacks and one fumble return while splitting time between defensive back and linebacker in 18 games for the Tabbies in 2005.

If Martin has an edge on the depth chart, it's because he played the outside linebacker, or SAM, position in Hamilton.

'I WILL SHINE'

"It is very, very familiar to me," said Martin, who may be ahead of Cam Hall and Toney Edison. "So when the time comes, I will shine because that's a position I know I can shine at, especially with the scheme that (defensive co-ordinator Greg) Marshall has for the SAM linebacker."

Marshall said the responsibilities are not quite the same in the Bombers' scheme.

"We've asked him to do things a little bit different than what he had to do in Hamilton," said Marshall. "So he's just trying to pick up on some of those things."

Martin is also still trying to get his legs back under him.

"I had to knock some of the rust off because I hadn't played ball in about a year," he said. "But everything's coming around and I'm feeling great."

Not that he assumes he's already won the job.

"There's competition here and that's keeping everybody playing at their highest level," said the Brooklyn, N.Y., native. "And that's what I play the game for -- competition. And when I step on the field, it's business."

Still, picking Charlton's replacement is not yet done.

"When you have new faces there, it's been up and down," Marshall said. "We've had some days there where it's been good and some days where it's been not so good. But I think we're progressing."

Edison has been slowed by a hamstring problem.

"Obviously, the exhibition games will tell a lot for those guys," Marshall said. "Practice is one thing and games will be a different deal. But so far so good."


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