Bombers returner Brown gets his chance

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Tim Brown is going to return kicks and punts for the Bombers on Sunday in the Banjo Bowl.

No, not the Tim Brown who used to play for the Los Angeles and Oakland Raiders.

No, not the Tim Brown who has returned kicks for the B.C. Lions this season.

This is Tim Brown, a former Rutgers Scarlet Knights star who will be trying to make a name for himself when he makes his CFL debut against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“I just come out every day and work hard,” Brown said Friday. “I’m glad to be healthy. I’m glad they kept me around and gave me an opportunity.”

Brown has been on the sidelines since suffering a broken foot during April’s rookie camp, but his return to health has coincided with the Bomber return game going into the tank.

The Bombers are dead last in the CFL with a 16.2-yard kickoff return average, and while their punt-return mark is a decent 9.6 yards per attempt, their 139 yards in penalties gives them a league-worst 6.6-yard net average.

Winnipeg’s average starting point on offence this season is its own 38-yard line, which is one yard ahead of the league average, but during Sunday’s 27-7 loss to Saskatchewan it was its own 30, so head coach Paul LaPolice felt it was time for a change.

“First of all, it doesn’t matter who you have returning,” LaPolice said. “We gotta do better on our up-front blocking, and Tim is a guy who can make you miss in a phone booth.

“He’s got acceleration, and he’s got quicks, and he catches the ball real well. So we hope he can flip the field for us and create an explosive play here or there.”

Brown’s appointment means cornerback Jovon Johnson is no longer the team’s primary punt returner after holding down the job for the last two seasons. LaPolice said the veteran took the news well, even offering to play the role of gunner on the cover teams.

“He’s a good character guy who will just do whatever it takes to be successful,” LaPolice said of Johnson.

Brown is only 5-foot-7 and 152 pounds, but he is lightning quick and had 114 catches for 2,272 yards and 20 touchdowns at Rutgers.

The 23-year-old Miami native went undrafted in 2010 but spent two pre-season games with the New York Giants. He spent a month last fall on the Arizona Cardinals practice roster.

It’s therefore been a while for Brown, who can’t wait to “bring energy” to his Bomber teammates on Sunday.

“It’s been real tough,” Brown said. “That’s the longest I’ve ever been out of football. Guys taught me how to be patient, telling me to get healthy. I was trying to rush back, rush back, rush back.

“Now I’m feeling good. I’m just happy to be here. A lot of people don’t get this opportunity, so I just gotta make the best of it.”


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