The Franklin factor

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

If Arjei Franklin hadn't injured his ankle in the second week of the season, there's a good chance he'd be second in Bomber receiving yardage right now.

The fourth-year Blue Bomber had 53 yards in a game and three quarters of action before suffering a serious tendon injury against the Calgary Stampeders on July 10.

It was bad enough that it landed him on the nine-game injured list.

The Scarborough, Ont., native was on pace to have close to 200 receiving yards going into last night's game in B.C. against the Lions, which was in progress at press time.

Now, 200 yards isn't much over the course of seven weeks in the CFL, but when you play for the Bombers in 2009, it's a lot.

Considering just how bad the Bomber passing game has been this season, it's easy to wonder what effect Franklin's presence might have had on the offence overall.

Head coach Mike Kelly said the Bombers would be much better with the wide receiver in the lineup.

"He's a valuable player for us, and we miss him right now," Kelly said. "I promise you we miss him right now.

"He brings a level of intelligence and perception to the position besides being tough and being able to make a catch."

So now the question is this: Do you take Franklin off the nine-game injured list early, retroactively causing his salary for the games he's missed to count against the cap?

Franklin sat out the last six games, which means he isn't eligible to return until Winnipeg's home game against the Toronto Argonauts on Sept. 26.

The Bombers are having cap problems, so the decision won't be an easy one. Kelly, however, said it's football first when it comes to personnel choices.

"I want to put the best players out on the field that are healthy to play, and then we manage the salary cap from there," Kelly said. "Because the bottom line is if we don't have a season that is deemed somewhat successful -- whatever that may be -- but we come in under the salary cap, nobody cares about the salary cap.

"Saskatchewan wins the Grey Cup, and they're $100,000 over the salary cap, and nobody really cared."

The Bombers have the bye next weekend, giving Franklin a free week to continue the healing process. He's been practising for a week and a half, but his foot is still heavily wrapped.

Franklin believes he will be ready to go all out when the Bombers return from their break. Their next game is 15 days from now, the Labour Day Classic in Regina on Sept. 6.

"They gotta make the decision, whether or not they want to put me on the field," Franklin said. "But I'm happy with the way I've progressed up until now, and I think this bye week is going to be real good for me.

"I think I'll be ready to go after the bye week, but that's half the battle. It's also up to the coaches to see if they want to put me on, but that's out of my control.

"All I'm really worried about is just getting healthy, which I've done. And I'm very, very grateful and I thank God for the way my injury has healed and leave the rest up for them."

Kelly values Franklin enough that he won't bring him back until he's completely healthy.

"I don't want to sacrifice and say, 'Oh God, we gotta get him back in,' and then he tweaks it and we've lost him for another four weeks," Kelly said. "I'd rather just have to tough it out a little bit and then see where he is from there."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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