Reid, Smith will platoon

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

It will take two players to replace the Big Little Man called Blink, at least for now.

Fred Reid and the recently-acquired Joe Smith will replace the bartered Charles (Blink) Roberts at running back when Winnipeg plays host to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the fifth annual Banjo Bowl on Sunday.

"Game day is the day you wait for all week and it's just about here and I'm ready to go right now," Reid said yesterday. "I'm ready for it, man. It's an opportunity for me and I've just got to go in and seize the opportunity, and do the best I can.

"This whole season, I've only had one carry so far and I get to carry a load this week and I'm looking forward to handling it."

Reid, 26, has been the understudy to Roberts the past year and a half, starting two games when Roberts was injured last season.

"It's not anything new at all for me," said Reid, who rushed for 270 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries in those outings. "I've just got to keep coming in and keep doing the same things I've been doing ... I've just got to come out and work hard and do whatever I can do to help this team win this week."

The 5-foot-8, 185-pound speedster hopes to get at least 20 carries.

"That would be real good for me," he said. "I should have a real good game with 20 carries. Most definitely. I want 200."

But even 20 may be a reach if he is platooning with Smith.

"Fred is a very similar back to Charles," said Bomber head coach Doug Berry. "He's a good receiver, runs the same type of running game. I think Fred's a really outstanding back and I'm looking forward to using him. He helped us win a couple of games last year and I know that he's looking forward to his opportunity this year."

READY TO COMPETE

Berry believes Smith -- who was acquired from B.C. for Roberts -- will also be able to make his Blue debut.

"He looks like he's ready to compete," Berry said. "I met with him extensively. I think he's going to be a quick learner. I think he will be able to, even after one day, handle 60% of what we do."

While Smith is known as a bit of a flake, that doesn't bug Berry.

"He's a bit different but it's a good different," Berry said. "I think he's a real gentleman. He's a very smart individual when you get him on the field ... He's a world-quality human being, at least in the time I've spent with him, and he's going to be very good for the locker-room."

But Roberts' absence is being felt in the room.

"He's going to be missed," said Reid. "Charlie was a character. He was different but I learned a lot from him and now, I can learn a bit from Joe (Smith). He's a little bit older than me and a little more experienced, too. Hopefully, I can learn from him, too, and make me a better back."

Smith won the CFL rushing title last year with 1,510 yards, but is still learning the Bomber system.

"I've been talking to Joe and making sure he understands everything," Reid said.

The 6-foot-1, 224-pound Smith declared himself ready to go.

"It felt good," Smith, 29, said after his first practice with his new teammates. "It was good to get out there with the guys and run a few plays ... After this, I'll be watching films and I'll be confident enough to go in on Sunday."

Berry said the offence will be tweaked to take advantage of Smith's strengths while Reid will likely be more involved in the passing game.


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