Is bigger better?

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

The trade that sent Charles Roberts to the B.C. Lions yesterday technically got rolling on Sunday night.

You wouldn't be wrong, however, if you state that the wheels were already in motion on Dec. 15, 2005 -- the day Doug Berry was hired as head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"We traded him because my job as a GM is to get the coach what he wants, player-wise," GM Brendan Taman said yesterday. "Doug's preference is a bigger back, and a power back.

"Why now, after two and a half to three years of working with it? Because we've been pretty productive with Charlie. And when the production stopped, my job was to get a different style back.

"We came to a point where it was time to get him the back he really wanted."

BLOCKBUSTER

And with that, the most successful ball carrier in Blue and Gold history was gone, shipped to the Lions for last year's CFL rushing champ, Joe Smith, in one of the biggest CFL blockbuster deals in recent memory.

The Bombers, who fell to 2-7 on Sunday with a 19-6 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, needed to do something. It's just that no one believed it would involve a three-time rushing champ who many believed was untouchable.

"That's as big news as you can get when you talk about shaking the apple tree," defensive tackle Doug Brown said. "That's rattling the chain at the highest link.

"Talk about a wakeup call. If you don't hear this one, you're unreachable."

At first blush, it appears the Bomber fan base was, for the most part, unhappy with the decision to move the fan favourite known as Blink.

"I've been called worthless, useless and other ones I can't repeat because it's not very nice," Taman said of the response he was getting from the Blue and Gold faithful.

When Taman told Roberts at 6 o'clock on Monday night that he didn't have a football future in Winnipeg, the GM said the 29-year-old Californian was stunned. However, it sounded as if Roberts had started to accept the trade yesterday.

SAME ATTITUDE

"I'm going to come in with the same attitude that I've had for the last eight years," Roberts told Vancouver radio station CKNW yesterday. "I'm going to go out there and be the best I can at my position and help my offence move the ball down the field.

"I like the fact that I'm going to B.C. I like Wally Buono as a head coach. I've talked to him over the years. I think we have a good relationship, and I hope it can translate on the field."

Roberts and Smith are both 29 years old, but could not have more different running styles. The 5-foot-6, 177-pound Roberts is a water bug who loves the spin move and taking it outside.

Smith is a 6-foot-2, 228-pound bruiser who will get you four yards, usually up the middle, almost every time. He led the league last year with 1,510 yards.

Some members of the Bomber brass believe Roberts has lost a step this year. In his first two years as coach, Berry would often say he didn't mind the one-yard losses from Roberts because he'd often rattle off 16 yards on the next play.

That was happening this year, however, and Berry said on his weekly radio show Monday night that Roberts wasn't the same player he was three years ago.

The Bombers even changed their offensive game plan earlier this season to accommodate a less effective Roberts, but it obviously wasn't working.

So a change was made.

Taman disagrees that Roberts has lost a step, even though the Sacramento State product is on pace for only 1,034 yards this season.

"Charlie can still play," Taman said. "(Buono) thinks the same way."

The Bombers and Lions have played twice this season and won't meet again until next year -- unless they somehow collide in the playoffs.

WHAT A RUN

In 61/2 years as the team's starter, Charles Roberts became the most productive running back in Winnipeg Blue Bombers history. A few highlights:

- Franchise-record 9,987 rushing yards, good for fifth in CFL history

- three-time CFL rushing king (2003, 2005, 2006)

- Winnipeg's most outstanding player four times (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)

- six consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons

- seven-time CFL all-star

- CFL's outstanding special teams player in 2001

- 37 regular-season games with at least 100 rushing yards

- 79 touchdowns

- 362 receptions


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