Charlie who?

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

Irony is a man named Reid.

When Charles Roberts was banished to B.C. for Joe Smith, the general consensus was that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers replaced a 5-foot-6, 177-pound tailback with a 6-foot-1, 224-pound power back.

But it turns out that the club has actually replaced its all-time leading rusher with a 5-foot-8, 185-pound tailback who answers to Fred Reid.

With help from Smith, the Bomber running game has re-emerged since that controversial deal and much of it has to do with the talent that was hidden when Reid was relegated to backup and special teams duties.

Reid, in fact, already boasts a better average carry (5.8 yards) than Roberts (4.6).

Reid is coming off his best game of the season, rushing for 93 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries during the 30-23 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos last Friday. And he is relishing his new-found fame.

"Oh man, I love it," he said yesterday. "I'm enjoying myself. We're winning right now. We're on the right track. We can get into the playoffs if we pull this game (in Edmonton on Saturday) out and the game after that. We're in a groove right now. I'm enjoying the opportunity I'm getting right now and I just need to keep it going."

Reid, 26, proved his worth when he replaced an injured Roberts for two games towards the end of last season. He rushed for 139 yards on 17 carries against Montreal.

"We felt that Fred had an outstanding talent level," said Bomber head coach Doug Berry. "To his disadvantage, we had Charles Roberts here and certainly, Charles Roberts wasn't going to let Fred on the field unless there were injuries and that was the only time we were able to take a look at Fred. But when he did get on the field, he was able to demonstrate some of the same things he was able to show us in practice and that's the reason why he's playing now."

But Reid had to bide his time.

"It was no big deal," said the Mississippi State product. "I figured one day I'd get my chance and I just had to be patient with it, do whatever they ask me to do and one day, it will come. And I've got the opportunity now. Charles has moved on and hopefully, he can be in a better situation where he's at now."

But Reid will be the first to tell you he has had a lot of help from his friend named Smith.

"I love it (platooning)," he said. "You know, keep fresh legs. I might need sparin' every now and then and Joe coming in and picking up the slack and getting the hard yards for us. It's a good combination back there. You never know what you're going to get with me or Joe back there. The combination's working pretty good."

Of course, both of them are getting more help from the soldiers up front than Roberts did.

"I kind of felt that it would start to come together when we could get an O-line that was starting to come together," Berry said. "I know that Fred and Joe are working real well with each other and complementing each other real well. It's a good situation and hopefully, we can keep building on it."

And the Fred and Joe Show is making life easier for those workhorses in the trenches.

"When we run well, the D-line and the linebackers have to respect the run a little more so, it opens the pass a little bit so they're not going to rush as much," said offensive tackle Alexandre Gauthier. "Before, when we were passing for 40 plays in a row, they knew we were passing. So, by mixing it up, it makes it a little easier, for sure."


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