Bombers' Surla surely versatile

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:31 AM ET

WINNIPEG - It didn’t take John Surla to realize one of the oldest adages for non-imports in the CFL.

“There’s a saying I’ve heard many, many times throughout this whole process, ‘The more things you do, the more valuable you are to a team,’ ” said Surla, a linebacker/long snapper who signed as a free agent with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after going unclaimed in the CFL Draft. “A thing like long snapping, which I picked up in high school, is something that’s probably been keeping me around. I just have to keep working on that.”

With Chris Cvetkovic sidelined with a calf injury but hopeful to be ready for the July 1 opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Surla realizes Thursday’s final pre-season contest against the Toronto Argonauts might be his final chance to earn the opportunity to stick around before rosters are cut down to 46 men, plus the practice roster.

“You get very limited reps when you’re a rookie and with those reps, you can’t have any mistakes on them,” said Surla. “I have to make sure they’re perfect, that’ll give me the best chance possible to make this team.

“I think I will be long snapping, so I have to make sure those are all perfect. I just have to do what I’ve been doing throughout my university career. I think things will go well.”

Following a four-year career with the University of Western Ontario Mustangs that saw him record 182 tackles in 32 games, Surla enjoyed his first CFL action last Thursday against the Montreal Alouettes.

“Going into it, I wasn’t even supposed to play,” said Surla. “I was showering up after practice and they came in and told me. I was excited about it. I knew I was going in at linebacker in the fourth quarter. At the end of the day, football is football and I kind of experienced that.

“No matter how fast it was moving, I think my instincts kind of took over. Things went pretty well. There were a few mistakes and I need to get better.”

During training camp, Surla has been doing his part to soak in the entire experience.

“It’s been a lot of fun, something I’ve never experienced before,” said Surla. “It’s another level. It’s one thing hearing it from people, as I’ve had friends who have moved on and are playing at this level. Every day seems like Groundhog Day.”

What stands out most as Surla tries to make the jump from Canadian college to the CFL?

“The athleticism of guys, that’s a big difference,” he explained. “There’s a lot of film to be watched. You meet for four, five, six hours a day. The mentality of this team and this league is very businesslike. Jobs are on the line every single day.”

Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said Surla has a lot of learning to do at the linebacker position but that his long-snapping abilities are sound.

INJURY UPDATE: Those on sidelines Tuesday included linebacker Henoc Muamba (knee), wide receiver Aaron Hargreaves (ankle), wide receiver Greg Carr (hamstring), wide receiver Damian Sherman (hamstring) and defenisve end Deji Oduwole.


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