Bombers' Watson catching on by keeping it simple

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:25 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Cory Watson understands this is a step that he must take in order to move to the next phase in his career.

But that doesn’t mean he’s excited to let it go.

While many football players would be happy to say good-bye to the crashing and banging of special teams after becoming an offensive starter, Watson is hoping to talk special teams co-ordinator Kyle Walters into letting him get a few licks in.

“I’ve always been a special-teams guy, someone who can run down and make a hit and get a few tackles,” said Watson, the second-year non-import who will join rookie Kito Poblah as the two Canadian starters in the Blue Bombers receiving corps. “I’ll miss it a little bit. And every now and then, I’ll be around coach Walters and see if he needs to plug in someone. I’ll be there ready for that.”

Watson, drafted ninth overall in 2010, appeared in 15 games for the Blue Bombers last season and his numbers (17 catches for 277 yards and one touchdown) didn’t exactly jump off the page.

But he dealt with the difficult transition from Canadian college to the pro game and with a year under his belt, is ready to take the next step.

“Right now, it’s about showcasing your athletic ability,” said Watson, who missed three games last season with a knee injury. “The game is a lot easier when you’re not thinking too much. It’s very important because it’s my childhood dream to be a starter and contribute. My goal is to be better than I was last year.

“Last year, I was happy to be on the team and contribute any way I can. This year, I need to do more. It’s all about consistency and being prepared any time your number is called.”

Watson’s peers believe he’s ready to take on a more substantial role in the offence.

“He’s taken on a little bit of a leadership role and the quarterbacks are expecting him to be in the right spots and win certain match-ups,” said Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce. “We’re having confidence in him from seeing what he does on a daily basis. He’s physical, he’s strong and he can get off the line.”

Pierce isn’t the only one who has seen the growth.

“He’s developed tremendously,” said Blue Bombers wide receiver Terrence Edwards. “That’s what you look for in a young guy, to see if he can come in and make strides. He’s gotten better and I expect big things from him.”

Don’t be surprised to see Blue Bombers offensive co-ordinator Jamie Barresi call Watson’s number a little more often in 2011.

“Last year there were a lot of things that came up with him that set him back — he was so involved with special teams and there was the whole rookie thing as well,. There was a big learning curve for him, to understand what it meant to be a pro,” said Barresi. “He runs very well. You watch him on video and he runs by defenders and he runs out of cuts very well. He’s very strong, he’s built so he doesn’t get pushed around. He commands his space and that’s a good thing.”

The Blue Bombers open the CFL regular season on July 1 at Ivor Wynne Stadium against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Up close and personal: Cory Watson

POSITION: Wide Receiver

AGE: 27

BORN: Dollar des Ormeaux, Que.

HEIGHT: 6-foot-2

WEIGHT: 208 pounds

SEASON: Second in CFL

* Drafted by Blue Bombers in second round (9th overall) in 2010

* Played in 15 games with Winnipeg in 2010, had 17 receptions for 277 yards and 1 touchdown

* Second team CIS All-star in 2009 after catching 52 passes for 821 yards and six touchdowns


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