Out of the shadow

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

It'll mean diddley squat if the Winnipeg Blue Bombers lose their playoff opener, this Saturday.

But, for now, six players can say they're East Division all-stars, and cash the bonus cheques that go with it.

One of them, running back Fred Reid, is an all-star for the first time, and it's safe to say the 26-year-old from Tampa, Fla., has officially emerged from the large shadow cast by the little guy he took the ball from.

"Oh, man, it's amazing," Reid said yesterday, during a break from preparations for Saturday's East semifinal against Edmonton. "I'm very happy. I didn't expect it at all. I guess it paid off for me. We've just got to keep it up. Keep running the ball hard going into the playoffs."

Reid has looked a lot like Charles Roberts since the Bombers' all-time rushing leader was dealt to the B.C. Lions, racking up 709 yards on just 101 carries, for a whopping 7.0-yard average.

Yesterday, the second-year back began to sound a bit like Roberts, too, when asked what kind of numbers he could have put up, had he started the entire season.

"I've been thinking about that the last couple days," Reid said. "I figure I could have had at least 2,000 yards, easily, this season. Hopefully I can come back and get another run at it next year, and hopefully lead the league in rushing next year. That's the goal."

Reid's bravado continued when he turned his thoughts to Saturday, and an Edmonton defence ranked sixth against the run.

"I believe we can run the ball on these guys," he said. "They've been having problems all year stopping the run. I think we execute against Edmonton real well."

If Reid's all-star selection came out of the blue, Doug Brown's is getting to be old hat.

The towering D-lineman received the honour for the fifth time in his eight-year career.

Brown was one of four Bomber defenders voted all-stars by the Football Reporters of Canada and the league's head coaches, along with input from fans.

Fellow lineman Gavin Walls, linebacker Zeke Moreno and defensive back/linebacker/safety Kelly Malveaux also got the nod, Malveaux at linebacker.

"It feels good to be acknowledged at this point -- 32 years old, playing some good ball, and playing several positions," said Malveaux, an all-star for the second time.

Walls got his third all-star honour after a 10-sack season that started slowly.

"The main thing is we're winning," Walls said. "It shows we've got some play makers on this team. Guys stepping up, and trying to lead this team back to the Grey Cup. This is a start for us."

Goodspeed, honoured for the second straight season, was the only other player recognized from the on-again, off-again Bomber offence, a unit that produced seven all-stars a year ago, including quarterback Kevin Glenn and three receivers.

Like Walls, Goodspeed took the honour as a chance to stoke the rising confidence of a team that started the season by winning just two of its first 10 games, but has rebounded to win six of eight.

"I'd rather look at this as the next step of getting back to the Grey Cup," Goodspeed said. "And silencing all the critics, making amends for the season and making the fans more proud of us, because of the slow start we had this year."

Montreal led the East with 14 all-star selections, nine on offence, while Toronto placed four players on the squad, Hamilton three.


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