Smith solid in Blue debut

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

The unveiling of the 'Fred and Joe Show' became an instant success with the audience early on.

But it needed a better ending.

Running back Joe Smith, who was acquired from B.C. in the trade that sent tailback Charles Roberts to the Lions last week, made his Blue Bombers debut in yesterday's game against Saskatchewan.

'LITTLE RUSTY'

Platooning with sophomore tailback Fred Reid, Smith rushed for 33 yards on 11 carries, with several of those in short-yardage situations, on which he was unstoppable.

Smith, who led the CFL in rushing last season, also scored a touchdown on a one-yard plunge.

"I felt pretty good," Smith said. "I was a little rusty in the beginning and had the helmet issue in the beginning. But I felt pretty good."

It seems Smith's chinstrap was loose.

"Every time I got the ball in the first quarter, my helmet was sliding over on my face because of my chinstrap," he said. "We changed it up so it worked better, so it worked out."

What did not work out was the outcome as Winnipeg blew a 17-point lead in losing to the Riders.

"It hurts but we can look at this game and take it as you look at the previous games," Smith suggested.

"This was a step up in the play of the game. It's big. The guys came out, we all competed and you saw what happened in the first three quarters. As long as we play one more quarter, things should be better."

Winnipeg led 31-14 after three quarters.

"It doesn't matter right now but one thing you can take from this game is that the guys are out there pushin', they have a lot of fun out there and we got things done out there," Smith said. "We've just got to complete the whole game and hopefully, the outcome next week will be different."

Reid rushed for 51 yards on 11 carries to give the pair a total of 84 yards on 22 lugs.

'PRESENCE'

"(Smith) did what we asked him to," said Bomber head coach Doug Berry. "There weren't a whole lot of things that we thought we could get him involved with but felt we could get him on the field and start a presence.

"He did a nice job. No major breakdowns and made some yards when we wanted him to, and the same thing with Fred Reid. I thought our backs did a nice job."

But history will still show that the Bombers lost their first game without the popular Roberts.


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