Bombers' Edwards comfortable with leader role

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:57 PM ET

HAMILTON -- Terrence Edwards swears it doesn't bother him.

But after enduring a 4-14 season in 2010, how could it not at least be an annoyance that he went into the final game on the docket as the leading receiver in the CFL, only to see Andy Fantuz slip by him and steal the crown?

"It really wasn't a big deal," said Edwards, the linchpin of what is expected to be a dynamic Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiving corps. "That's happened to me twice. In '07 it was the same thing. I led going into the last game and Geroy (Simon) passed me."

The Blue Bombers open the 2011 campaign on Friday night at Ivor Wynne Stadium (5:05 p.n., TSN, CJOB) and there's no doubt who the offensive leader is.

Sure, Edwards would like to win a receiving title one day but he has other issues that are more pressing.

"My expectation is to lead these young receivers and lead this team to victories," said Edwards. "No matter how many yards or touchdowns I score. I don't have to lead the league, I don't have to be No. 1 in yardage on this team. I just have to go out and be the captain, the leader and the veteran presence in this offence."

There may be guys across the league who are flashier, but Edwards simply gets the job done.

"He's the best in the league," said Blue Bombers linebacker Clint Kent, who will sit out Week 1 with an injury.

Edwards isn't worried about making bold proclamations about who the best receiver in the league might be, but don't mistake that for not taking pride in being in the discussion.

"I feel like I'm getting wiser -- every athlete takes pride in their craft and I take pride in my craft and going out and doing my job well," said Edwards, who amassed 1,372 yards on 78 receptions to go along with 12 touchdowns in 2010. "My focus is getting Ws and if me leading the league comes with it, that's fine and if it doesn't, I'm fine with it."

Edwards says being around Ben Cahoon with the Montreal Alouettes and Milt Stegall with the Blue Bombers has allowed him to now be in a position to pass on a wealth of knowledge to the younger receivers.

"If you stay in long enough, it happens to work that way," said Edwards.

What does it mean to have a security blanked like Edwards within a talented receiving corps?

"You have to have that," said Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce. "You have to have a guy that's been around. You look across the league and a lot of teams have one solid vet that's been there awhile and is the staple of that corps. You build around that guy.

"Terrence is a guy that is very vocal. He helps lead, coach, he practices well. If you don't have a guy like that and you have all that young talent, there's nobody for them to follow."

"Terrence is one of those guys who leads on and off the field," added Blue Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown. "He can talk you into the right direction or he can show you. He's smooth. It's always a pleasure to watch him play."

But it's not necessarily a pleasure to have to defend against him.

"I coached the receivers in Montreal and was fortunate enough to go to a Grey Cup with Terrence on my side," said Ticats head coach Marcel Bellefeuille. "I knew then the type of player he was going to be. He's very explosive and he's much faster than people give him credit for. He can stretch the field, he finds the ball in the air very well so as long as its in the vicinity he can make a play.

"He's one of the top guys in the league, (though) he's one of those guys you don't talk about as much."

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