Blue QB out of toner

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

James Kilian was far removed from pro football this winter, selling photo copiers in Minneapolis, as a matter of fact, when his agent called for the first time in more than six months.

"It'd been a while," Kilian said. "Actually, when he called me I thought he was just seeing how life was going. And then he asked me if I still was interested in playing."

Despite being a little gun shy at first, the 28-year-old eventually decided to give pro football one more go. He now has a glorious opportunity to be the backup quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"There's nothing that's catching him off guard right now," head coach Mike Kelly said earlier this week. "He's very bright, he's very aware, and this isn't his first rodeo."

Kilian knows all about rodeos after growing up in the tiny northern Oklahoma town of Medford. He played eight-man football in high school and threw for a national record 8,426 yards (since broken) and 120 touchdowns in four seasons.

Despite playing eight-man ball, Kilian started two seasons at the University of Tulsa (where current Bomber receiver Romby Bryant was one of his primary targets) and ended up sixth on the school's career passing list.

The Kansas City Chiefs drafted him in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL draft, and even though he had a pretty good pre-season the Chiefs opted to keep two veterans to back up Trent Green. Kilian got the shaft again in Atlanta two years ago, when he gave up a job with the Arena Football League's Nashville Kats to pursue the Falcons' No. 3 quarterback position.

After telling him he would take part in camp, they cut him before it even started. That was enough pro football for Kilian.

"When I was released from Atlanta, I was OK to walk away from that, because of the business side of it," he said. "I'm like, you know what? I'm tired of going somewhere, competing and not even having an opportunity.

"I do feel like with coach Kelly that I do have a legit opportunity."

It's a slam dunk that Stefan LeFors will be the Bombers' starter, while the other two spots are up for grabs between Bryan Randall, Richie Williams and Kilian, who has a decent arm, makes smart decisions and can run if need be.

Not that he's worried about the competition. He knows the best man doesn't always win, so he's only focusing on himself.

"You get in trouble when you start to look at another guy or are concerned with how another guy is doing," he said. "I have enough confidence in myself that if I do the things that I know that I do well, I like my chances. "


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