Bomber up to the challenge

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:23 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Kelly Butler knows the ropes and that’s one of the reasons he isn’t about to be overwhelmed by the prospect of competing for his starting job at right tackle.

Not only does the second-year Winnipeg Blue Bomber offensive lineman welcome the competition, he embraces it with open arms.

“That’s the way you want it to be — you want to go out there, come to work and be challenged,” said Butler, as the Blue Bombers hit Day 16 of training camp on Monday. “You want to come get better, every single day.”

Butler is involved in one of the fiercest positional competitions in this camp, going head-to-head with fellow import Glenn January for the starting spot at right tackle. January was a starter for Winnipeg in 2009 but missed all of 2010 after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in the first pre-season game last June.

For what it’s worth January was working with the first-team offence last week but after he came up lame with a groin issue, Butler moved right in and made the start in the pre-season game against the Montreal Alouettes.

As January got back on the field this week, Butler remained with the first-teamers — though the competition to see who starts on July 1 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is ongoing.

The next chance for both men to audition comes Thursday, when the Blue Bombers host the Toronto Argonauts at Canad Inns Stadium at 7 p.m. (TSN, CJOB).

Butler, who turns 29 on Friday, says the approach going into the final preseason tilt is simple.

“It’s one of those things that’s the reality of the business,” said Butler, who spent time in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. “Nothing is going to last forever. You have to go out there and put out the best product you possibly can and put out good tape. You have to give it everything you have. When you look back on your career, you don’t want to have any regrets.

“So you leave it all out on the field. You never know, you’re always one play away from your career being over.”

Coming off a 4-14 season that saw the Blue Bombers finish in last place had returnees working extra hard coming into training camp — knowing no job was safe.

“It’s motivation — you look at where you are and where you want to go,” said Butler. “From where we were last year, we’ve taken leaps and bounds. You look back at last season and how the whole off-season felt, it gives you a lot of extra motivation.

“We’re going in the right direction. Everybody is working extremely hard and it’s a great atmosphere. It’s a phenomenal vibe. I’m almost 29 years old and I’m playing a kid’s game. I’m very blessed.”

Butler is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-8 and 330 pounds, but he moves well.

“He’s very athletic, he changes direction well and he’s powerful,” said Blue Bombers offensive line coach Pat DelMonaco. “He’s starting to understand the entire system and that’s going to help him, in terms of the big picture. But the biggest thing about him, is that he adapts well and does his job well.”

Up close and personal

Kelly Butler

Position: Offensive tackle

Age: 28 (29 on June 24)

Born: Grand Rapids, Mich.

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 330 pounds

College: Purdue

Season: Second in CFL

— Signed as a free agent by Blue Bombers on March 19, 2010

— Started all 18 games at right tackle with Winnipeg in 2010

— Spent two seasons with Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz of Arena Football League 2

— Drafted in sixth round of NFL draft by Detroit Lions in 2004

— Started 16 games with Lions in 2005

— Played five games with Cleveland Browns in 2006 before suffering a foot injury

— Member of the All Big-10 Freshman team and started every game before declaring for NFL Draft after his junior season


Videos

Photos