I'm ready to play: Poblah

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:42 AM ET

WINNIPEG - When Kito Poblah sets goals, he doesn’t file them under “M” for “modest.”

The rookie receiver earned a starting spot with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers out of training camp, and promptly set his sights on being something special this season.

“I always shoot for the moon,” Poblah was saying, Thursday. “One of my first goals was to be rookie of the year.”

Eight weeks later, he’s played part of one game and spent the rest of the time on the injured list with a damaged knee.

This week, the 23-year-old Montreal product is ready to pick it up where he left off, all but a sure thing to return to his starting spot in the Labour Day Classic in Saskatchewan, Sunday.

And that CFL rookie-of-the-year award?

“I still feel like I have a chance for it,” Poblah said. “I’ve just got to come back out and show everybody what I can do.

“It’s a big setback. But at the same time I’m not going to stop grinding. I’m a competitor, and I believe as long as I come out every day and do my best I can be the best.”

Head coach Paul LaPolice appeared to be grasping at whatever he could to keep from confirming Poblah’s return.

Where early in the week the coach said he wanted to see how Poblah’s knee reacted to practice, Thursday LaPolice suggested money could be a factor.

Coming off the nine-game injured list a week early would mean Poblah’s entire first-half salary, roughly $30,000 to $35,000, would be applied to the salary cap. If he remains injured through Week 9, it doesn’t apply.

“I’ll sit down with Mr. Mack and go through all those scenarios,” LaPolice said, referring to Bomber GM Joe Mack. “It always factors in. You don’t want to be over the cap.”

It’s hard to imagine, though, LaPolice having Poblah join the starting offence in practice all week if he doesn’t plan on playing him.

A graduate of Central Michigan, Poblah dropped into Winnipeg’s lap via the supplemental draft because his non-import status wasn’t determined until after the college draft.

There’s no doubt the 6-foot-2, 213-pounder is a potential upgrade over Aaron Hargreaves, a steady if unspectacular receiver who’s caught 14 passes for 127 yards and no touchdowns.

“He’s one of the best guys out of the break,” LaPolice said of Poblah. “He can change direction and make cuts. He can run by people and he’s physical with the ball in his hands.”

The ball dropping out of his hands is the lingering image of Poblah’s debut.

On one of two deep drops, he added injury to the insult.

Since then, it’s been a long wait at a chance for redemption. “If I dwell on the dropped balls, I’m not looking towards the future,” he said. “Last season we were 4-14, now we’re 7-1. It’s the same thing.

“I’ve been out for, like, eight, nine games — I lost count. I just want to get out there and play. I’ve never been hurt during the season. It’s been a very humbling experience. I’ve seen how much I miss the game, how much I love it.”

And how much he’d like to leave a different lingering image.

“I guess that’s for me to show you guys,” Poblah said. “I’m not the one to talk my game. I just show it.”


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