Well worth Amey's wait

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

When your oldest brother grows to become a 6-foot-3, 300-pound NFL player and you are the youngest of four boys, you are most often last at the trough.

"Yeah, he got all the food on the table," Winnipeg import receiver Otis Amey joked yesterday.

Amey, whose brother, Vince, played defensive line for the Oakland Raiders in the late '90s, is generously listed at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds. That may be one reason why Blue Bombers head coach Mike Kelly, who prefers bigger targets, waited so long to insert him into the starting lineup.

But Amey amazed even Kelly in his CFL debut, leading both sides with six receptions for 118 yards as the Bombers beat the Toronto Argonauts 29-24 at Canad Inns Stadium on Saturday.

That was after Amey spent five weeks on the practice roster. So, where was this guy earlier?

"Hindsight's 20-20, and should we have gotten him in a week sooner?" Kelly mused. "We probably could have but I'm glad it worked out the way it did, and I'm very pleased for him."

But, while Amey has been patient, he may have started to wonder when another import pass catcher, Dudley Guice Jr., was dressed ahead of him despite being in camp a much shorter time.

"Of course, you get a little impatient as a player because every player feels like he can make plays and, as you know, everyone can't play," said Amey, 27. "So, you just try to deal with that and work harder, lift the weights and learn the plays so that when you get your shot, you can make the most of it.

"I'm not a big receiver so I've always had to work hard and I finally got my shot."

Amey got the shot because the Bombers traded a struggling Romby Bryant to Calgary and Terrence Edwards suffered a concussion. It did not take long for him to make an impression as Amey made an incredible over-the-shoulder catch for 11 yards on the first series.

"That felt so great," Amey said after the match. "You know, you want to get that first hit out of the way and after the first catch, there was no more nervousness after that. I caught the ball and I felt good."

Bishop targeted Amey -- who made another jaw-dropping catch for 47 yards in the first quarter -- early.

"I wanted to show him that he's part of the team," Bishop said. "He came up with every ball except for one that I threw his way. He did a great job. He competed. The same thing he does on the field, diving for the ball and all that, he does it in practice ... That's the type of guy we need out there every play."

Amey has bounced around his entire pro career. He once played for the San Francisco 49ers and had a short stint with Atlanta. In between, he has played in the Arena Football League. The B.C. Lions cut him in training camp and he wound up in Winnipeg where he has had to bide his time.

"I've always been told that, if you can play, they'll find ya," said Amey, who set both career receiving and kick return records at Sacramento State. "That is not a big school at all and when I went to the NFL after that, I knew I could make it."

The Bombers are slowly working Amey into the return game but are wary of angering defensive back Jovon Johnson, who has established himself as a quality returner.

With Edwards expected to sit out again when Winnipeg plays host to the Edmonton Eskimos this Friday, Amey is anxious to do more.

"Now, it's about what can I do to help the team win against Edmonton."

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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