Blue DB has something to prove

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:04 AM ET

If a smile could make tackles and intercept passes, Brandon Stewart would likely be the player of the game Friday night.

After three years in the CFL, the second-year Blue Bomber defensive back is finally getting his first start in the season opener against Hamilton.

As the reality set in following the Bombers’ first practice of the week Monday, Stewart’s eyes lit up like a someone who just had the ball thrown right at him, with nothing but green space to the end zone.

“Man, I can’t wait,” Stewart said. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this. I’ve been in the league three years. I’ve been through four camps. So I’ve been waiting, really, four years ... to get an opportunity to prove what I can do. ’Cause a lot of people don’t really know.”

A 24-year-old product of Seattle, Stewart dressed for four games last season, seeing even less action with Calgary in the two years before that.

A groin injury kept him out of the last pre-season game, but didn’t quell his hunger to play.

“A very athletic kid that’s very cerebral,” is how defensive co-ordinator Kavis Reed describes Stewart. “He’s played extremely hard. Everything’s about timing for him. He wasn’t able to participate in the pre-season because of injury. He’s fully healthy now, so we have to try to get him up to speed in terms of his timing and also recognition.”

Stewart has loads of experience compared to the Bombers’ other starting defensive half Alex Suber, who’s as raw as they come.

But head coach Paul LaPolice downplayed the notion the secondary is a scary place to break in rookies.

“People aren’t comfortable with change,” LaPolice said. “Anytime somebody new (comes in), everyone’s going, ‘Oh my God, a new guy.’ But you have to have a comfort level with that.”

PACK OF WOLVES: If fans are wondering what personality the Bomber defence will have this season, Stewart has an answer.

“Our mentality is the wolf pack mentality,” he said. “Everything is about being together. Being physical, being fast. A pack of wolves. That’s what we call ourselves: a pack of wolves.”

BERNARD TO SIT? It appears Canadian Daryl Stephenson will be the backup running back Friday, as he returned to practice from the injury list and the Bombers lean toward starting two Canadians, Cory Watson and Brock Ralph, at receiver.

That would leave import Yvenson Bernard out of the lineup.

SICK BAY UPDATE: Also returning to practice were safety Brady Browne, receiver David Ball and O-lineman Ryan Donnelly.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca


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