Backups come back

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

One had to be coaxed to come back. The other had to be retrieved from the Arena Football League.

And both are anxious to prove they are now better quarterbacks than when they left Winnipeg last November.

Brad Banks will start and Ryan Dinwiddie will wrap up when the Blue Bombers take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a CFL pre-season game at Canad Inns Stadium at 7 p.m.

Justin Holland, the other pivot vying for the No. 2 spot behind Kevin Glenn, will also see action.

Banks was pursuing other options last winter when Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry called to ask him to return.

"Obviously, he saw some good things in me towards the end," said Banks, who completed 22 of 52 passes for 219 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions last season. "He saw that I was growing in his system and wanted me back. That made my decision easier to come back here."

Berry said he's already noticed a vast improvement in Banks this training camp.

"He's head and shoulders above where he was a year ago," said Berry, who had sometimes relegated Banks to third-string status last year. "What gives me optimism is that he knows so much more. He's experienced so much more and I expect so much more from him.

"And he expects more from himself because of all of the familiarity he has been able to generate from practising with us for a year."

HAVING TROUBLE

The knock on Banks was he was having trouble fitting into the offensive system Berry introduced.

"This year's camp was a little more comfortable than last year," said the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Iowa State product. "Last year, it was a new system and this year it was coming back into the same system. So it was pretty easy coming back in knowing and doing some of the things I was doing last year."

Banks will get a fresh chance to prove himself tonight.

"Yeah, we get to go out and run around a little bit and have a real good time," said Banks, 27. "Everybody's excited to get out here and display what they have."

Meanwhile, Dinwiddie had unwittingly signed an AFL contract while still under contract to the Bombers and was beckoned back.

"I'm definitely just excited having a training camp after coming in mid-season last year," said the 6-foot, 189-pound Boise State product. "It happened so fast, being a rookie in this league. Now I have an idea what's going on and I feel that I am very much improved from last year. I feel like I've had a great camp."

Dinwiddie, 26, is also anxious to strut his stuff tonight.

"I just want to show them what I'm all about, go out there and make plays, run the offence, take care of the football and show them that I'm ready to play in this league," said Dinwiddie, who completed 11 of 24 passes for 107 yards and one TD last season.

Holland is less of a known factor at this point.

"He is a smart guy with a quick release, a strong arm," Berry said. "(But) we won't know anything about his running capabilities until he's really forced to scramble and we'll probably get some of that demonstrated to us."

The quarterbacks, of course, will not be the only players under the microscope tonight.

"In practice, you can evaluate the mental," Berry said. "But now we can evaluate the physical as well as the mental ... This is going to be the (first) real test."


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