Blink throws down gauntlet

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

Charles Roberts chose not to lash out or complain, but that didn't prevent him from making a bold proclamation.

Roberts, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' star running back, broke his self-imposed media silence yesterday and expressed his desire to win another rushing title -- despite being limited to 87 yards on 19 carries through the first two games of the CFL season.

For those who are curious, Roberts currently sits sixth in rushing, 138 yards behind Jesse Lumsden of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The three-time rushing champion was blunt when asked if he was going to let a Canadian out-rush him this season.

"I don't intend to let anybody out-rush me, whether they're Canadian or not," said Roberts, who finished second to Joe Smith of the B.C. Lions in 2007 after sitting out the final two games of the regular season. "I really don't know who's leading right now and I really don't care until my name is at the top."

Though limited to six carries in Friday's loss to the Montreal Alouettes, Roberts didn't sound off about his lack of touches.

"I understand the situation, we fell down by a lot of points and you can't run the ball expecting to get back in a CFL game," said Roberts. "I knew I wasn't going to see the ball from the first quarter on. What I could do is still be involved in the passing game and I did catch a couple of passes. It's just circumstances.

"I need to be able to contribute and if more touches is what that takes, then that's what it takes. I'm not demanding or asking for more touches. We'll find our way and usually when we find our way, I'm involved."

Leading his team in touchdowns, with two, is of little consolation to Roberts so far.

"They were easy touchdowns," he said. "It's almost like you don't even want to score the touchdown. Once the yards get up, those two touchdowns will be more important to me or feel better to me. Right now, it's just something that happened."

In an effort to get Roberts more touches, head coach Doug Berry announced he'd be periodically sending the man known as Blink back to return punts.

That was music to the ears of Roberts.

"I've been asking coach Berry and every head coach that's come through here since I stopped doing it to let me and they never did," said Robert, who last returned punts regularly in 2003 and has no returns since totalling seven in 2004. "I haven't been that involved in the offence, so they're finding a way to get me more touches and I'm happy about it."

Roberts believes that returning punts might allow him to get into the flow of the game a bit sooner.

"The one thing I liked about returning kicks when I was doing it full-time is that you've already been hit and you already know what to expect," said Roberts, now in his eighth season with the Blue and Gold. "It helps to get you in a better groove.

"I'm only going to be doing it one here and one there. If I bust one, I'll get to do it again. If I don't, I'll be sitting on the sidelines."

Berry is confident Roberts can give the slumping return game a shot in the arm.

"He's very comfortable with it, he has good mechanics and I don't expect any issues with him back there," said Berry, who will also use Arjei Franklin and Jovon Johnson in place of Fred Reid. "I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do. He's done a lot of talking.

"We're looking for a spark. When Charles runs the ball even on hand-offs, sometimes it ends up being (like) a punt return. This isn't going to be new for him."


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