Chance to shine

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

Justin Holland could become a Dutch treat or just another temporary finger in the Winnipeg backup dike.

The promising young Blue Bomber quarterback will get his first -- and maybe last -- chance to strut his stuff when Winnipeg plays host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a CFL pre-season contest on Thursday.

Holland is battling returnees Brad Banks and Ryan Dinwiddie for the supporting role behind incumbent starter Kevin Glenn and each one will play about one-third of Thursday's game, said head coach Doug Berry.

"The decision on who's going to be backing up Kevin will certainly come from the game on Thursday night," Berry added yesterday.

Both Banks and Dinwiddie have played in live games before but this will be the first taste of CFL action for Holland.

"I've been looking forward to that ever since the first couple of days of camp," said Holland, 24. "After a while, playing against our defence, it gets a little repetitive. They know our stuff and we know theirs and it will just be good to get out against somebody else.

"I've got to show that I can move the football, show that I can lead the offence and get the offence into the endzone a couple of times."

The 6-foot-3, 213-pound Colorado State product came to camp with impressive college credentials. In his senior year, he completed more than 63% of his passes and had a 143.44 efficiency rating (sixth in the U.S. among draft-eligible QBs).

"Strong arm, fast delivery, very resilient guy, takes criticism well -- it doesn't seem to throw him off," assessed quarterbacks coach Kit Cartwright.

"At this point, he may be suffering from information overload because we've thrown so much at him. But what normally happens is that the light bulb starts to flicker a little bit, then it comes back after things start making sense. And he's fine. He's going to be a good player."

But Holland is still learning the unique Canadian style.

"It's an exciting game," he said. "It's very fast. It's a lot faster than the American football. The receivers are all over the place. It's my type of football ... I feel real comfortable after having a couple of weeks down and I'm starting to get to know the offence a little bit and starting to see the defences a little bit better.

"I'm starting to get that feel that I can definitely make a name for myself in this game."

Passed over in the 2006 NFL draft, Holland attended the Miami Dolphins training camp as a free agent last year.

"I didn't really get a chance to finish my cup of coffee there," he joked.

"But it was a good experience. I got to learn an NFL offence and an NFL system. But that was pretty much all it was.

"I was excited about coming here and getting a chance to learn a new brand of football. And get the opportunity to play professionally, a chance to get paid for doing something that I love."

Berry was impressed with the way Holland threw the ball into the wind yesterday, despite the fact he threw several interceptions. But he is not looking for anything spectacular from any of his signal-callers come Thursday.

"I'd like to see consistency -- be able to move the team and not feel like it's up to you to be The Man," Berry said. "Just play within the play that's being called the way we expect you to and really take care of the football."


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