Hefs in the house

Bombers defensive back Jonathan Hefney gestures during practice a past practice. (Winnipeg Sun)

Bombers defensive back Jonathan Hefney gestures during practice a past practice. (Winnipeg Sun)

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

He is certainly hoping to be here for a good time, but Jonathan Hefney may not be back for a long time.

The import defensive back returned to Winnipeg after a failed NFL tryout Tuesday and is expected to be at Blue Bombers practice Wednesday.

Hefney, 25, was obligated to return to Winnipeg because the Bombers still own his CFL rights. But whether he will still be playing for the Bombers next season remains up in the air.

Im just coming back to finish the rest of the option year, Hefney said moments after arriving at the Winnipeg airport Tuesday.

Nor would he speculate about negotiating for a new pact with the club.

I dont even know, Hefney replied. I just want to wait and see. Im always open to anything.

Veteran defensive back Jovon Johnson convinced Hefney to return without signing a new contract.

I just told him come back and play out your option, then you can be a free agent all over again, said Johnson, who has kept in touch with Hefney since he left. Hell be a free agent in both leagues, the NFL and CFL. That way, he can make the decision on where he wants to play.

The club really wants him to be around. They wanted to re-sign him, but hes still a young guy. He still doesnt know if he wants to play in the NFL or not. That will happen at the end of the season. Hes going to keep his options open.

Hefney, who was the Eastern rep for the most outstanding rookie of the year in 2009, will finish the last third of the season with Winnipeg, hoping to help the Bombers earn a post-season berth.

Im looking forward to getting started, said Hefney, who was released from the Detroit Lions practice roster last week. Ive been sitting out just practising and Im ready to get it going Its not like Im not in shape because Ive been running the whole time.

Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice indicated that Hefney will likely play against the Lions in B.C. this Saturday.

Were going to try to get him as up to speed as we can, then well go from there and try to get him ready whether its a nickel back the first week, or try to get him a spot the second week, he said.

Hefneys return is rather timely as veteran cornerback LaVar Glover will miss at least the next two games with a groin pull. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Tennessee product recorded 66 defensive tackles, five special teams tackles and intercepted four passes last year when he was named a CFL All-Star. He also threw some key blocks so Johnson could break kick returns for touchdowns.

Oh man, I cant wait to see my guy, Hefney said. I want to see him run a couple of punts back. I heard he ran back what, six, already?

Just two, actually.

Jovon spoke highly of him, and Jovon helped get him up here, too, LaPolice said. He said, Come here, youll like it. Its a different atmosphere (than last year). Ive heard great things about him and I expect him to be a good locker-room guy.

Hefney also believes his NFL experience made him a better player.

I learned a lot about the game and Im just trying to put it towards here in the CFL right now, he said. I ran with (Detroit wide receiver) Calvin Johnson (at practice) and nobody can run faster than me now. Running with Calvin Johnson was like chasing a car.

Hefney also discussed Winnipegs 3-9 record with Johnson before returning.

We talked about the record, and how many games we lost that were close games, Johnson said. Regardless of how good or bad we were, he still had that opportunity to come back and play football for a team that really wants him to be here. What better opportunity could he have right now?

With files from Paul Friesen

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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