It's been a long wait, but Winnipeg Blue Bombers wide receiver Arjei Franklin is finally going to get a chance to play for a permanent spot on the roster this week when the Bombers travel west to take on the B.C. Lions.
It's just a matter of whether it will be as a starter or as a back-up.
In last week's 43-22 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Canadian receiver and place kick holder Jamie Stoddard went down with a knee injury, opening the door for Franklin's return after he was injured in training camp.
"I'm excited. It's been a long time. I've been waiting for a while," Franklin said yesterday.
"I hope Jamie's all right, but that's just football. I am just looking forward to the opportunity to make some plays." Oddly enough, Franklin suffered a high ankle sprain in a preseason game against the Tabbies that left him unable to practise for the remainder of training camp and into the start of the regular season.
So imagine going to work everyday, but instead doing what you love to do, you have to watch someone else do what you love to do. That's what it's been like for Franklin -- the Bombers 2006 Rookie of the Year -- through the first six games of the season.
And that makes Friday's game in B.C. all the more important.
"Huge, it's huge," Franklin said. "Every game is pretty much an audition in the CFL. You have to prove yourself every time you are out there. I see it that way, but I am not trying to think too much on that side. I am thinking about making plays and helping win the game. If you go out there thinking the coaches like you or are worried that they don't like you, your mindset isn't in the right place." While his spot on the starting roster isn't confirmed yet, he will dress for the game and is a lot closer to cracking the starting line up than he was at this time last week.
"We're just trying to get him a lot of reps ... so that if we go that direction he's familiar with what's going on offensively that we can put him in the roster and hopefully not lose a beat," Bombers head coach Doug Berry said.
The key piece of the puzzle Berry has to solve is the health of Canadian safety Ian Logan. With non-import linebacker Corey Jenkins most likely returning to the starting lineup in place of Canadian Neil McKinlay, either Logan or Franklin will need to be inserted as starters to even the import/non-import ratio.
Despite the uncertainty of how much he will get to play, Franklin is just happy to be seeing some passes again, even if it is against the league's best team.
"It's football and a nice challenge," he said. "Any team you play against, they are professionals. They practise as hard as we do and they know what they're doing. I am not going to look at B.C. as being something better than if we were to face the worst team in the league."