Ribbing a welcome relief

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:15 AM ET

Graeme Bell's teammates are making fun of him again.

Never have good-natured insults sounded so sweet to the 27-year-old from Saskatoon.

"The stuff you miss when you're not here is the razzing and the nicknames and all that stuff," the Winnipeg Blue Bombers fullback said. "It's good to be back, and the guys, it's nice to see them all."

Bell was back on a football field yesterday for the first time since November 2006.

He suffered a serious head injury last May when he was randomly attacked by a bat-wielding thug outside a Saskatoon bar and missed the 2007 season.

He momentarily lost the ability to speak and also had trouble doing the simplest physical activities for months after the incident. Now the only physical difference since the last time he played is he's two pounds heavier.

"That's really the only difference," he said. "Everybody worries about my head, but I have confidence in the doctor's prognosis."

Yesterday's opening workouts could not have gone more smoothly for Bell, who was one of Winnipeg's top special teams players in 2006.

"There were some nerves, but it went really well," he said. "Not as much rust as I thought. The contact's out of the way. I'm confident in everything now."

NEW BLOOD: The Bombers, who are seriously shallow when it comes to defensive back depth, acquired Kevin Garrett from the Saskatchewan Roughriders yesterday.

The Bombers surrendered the rights to a negotiation list player and future considerations.

Garrett appeared in 24 NFL games for St. Louis and Houston between 2003 and 2006 before joining the Calgary Stampeders last year. He dressed for four games with the Stamps but wasn't invited back this year, so he joined the Roughriders.

"He's got a little bit of experience with our field, so it was an opportunity to get somebody that we didn't have to start from scratch with here on Day 1," head coach Doug Berry said.

LATE HIT: Receiver Dan Sheldon left yesterday's first practice with a thigh bruise and is day-to-day.


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