Dorian paying dividends

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

The picture of Dorian Smith has taken on different gray tones since he first arrived in Bomberville last season.

The 6-foot-2, 268-pound import defensive tackle spent three weeks on Winnipeg's practice roster before the Blue Bombers sent him packing last year. And he did not know if he would ever be back.

"Dorian's a good ball player," defensive line coach Richard Harris said yesterday. "I tried to get the guys to keep him around and they let him go. We had a chance to bring him back in this year for camp and he's proven everything that I thought of him last year. As a matter of fact, (Hamilton defensive co-ordinator) Greg Marshall was hoping that we'd cut him."

Actually, the former Bomber defensive co-ordinator almost got his wish.

"At the beginning of the year, they were kind of teetering on whether they were going to let him go or not," Harris said. "So, it just goes to show ya that when opportunity comes, you've got to be able to take advantage of it ... We were lucky enough to get him back and he's paying dividends right now."

Indeed. Smith filled in so well for injured veteran Tyrone Williams in the first game of the CFL season that the Bombers decided to start him over Williams for last Saturday's game against Hamilton.

Smith, 23, currently leads the club with two quarterback sacks and has put constant pressure on opposing pivots.

"Dorian is doing a nice job on the inside," said Bomber head coach Mike Kelly. "His hand movement is very good and he's got explosiveness ... It's a pleasant one but I wouldn't say it's a big surprise. I didn't know that he would be quite as active as he is right off the bat."

Smith is just enjoying his new-found fame right now.

"I've just been trying to do the best I could with the opportunity I've been given and do whatever I can to help the team win," said the soft-spoken Van Nuys, Calif., native. "What I've been doing real well is rushing the passer. But I need more stats against the run and I'm working on that."

But don't let his calm demeanour fool you.

"He's really quiet but he's got a mean streak in him, and when he gets a chance to get around the ball, he unleashes that mean streak; I like that about him," Harris said.

"Oh yeah. Off the field, I'm the nicest person you'd ever want to meet," Smith said with a devilish smile. "But I don't play around on the football field."

That has also pleased Kelly.

"For a young player, he gets in there and really does a nice job of varying his techniques, of giving great effort on every play," he said. "He's been pretty impressive for the first three weeks."

The Oregon State product also credited Williams, the man he is replacing, for helping him.

"I'm not Tyrone so I don't know what it's like to be in his situation," Smith said. "But he's been very supportive. He's helping to make me a better football player."

The sudden emergence of the younger, cheaper Smith has put Williams in an awkward position and there has even been some suggestion that the eight-year CFL veteran could be expendable.

"Tyrone is a real team guy," Harris said. "He's a leader, not only on the field but off it. He's been doing the same things he would have done as if he was still the starter at this point ... He's been working along with Dorian and he's just taking it in stride right now."


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