Blue eyes on Fantuz

Andy Fantuz watches from the sidelines as the Saskatchewan Roughriders play the Winnipeg Blue...

Andy Fantuz watches from the sidelines as the Saskatchewan Roughriders play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Regina on September 4, 2011. (REUTERS/Fred Greenslade)

Kirk Penton, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:26 AM ET

Jonathan Hefney’s voice was almost gone Saturday morning, which wasn’t surprising considering how much he likes to talk.

The Bombers defensive back figured his vocal cords were hurting, though, because everyone’s been asking him all week about the return of Riders slotback Andy Fantuz.

“I’m talking too much to y’all,” the South Carolina native told a group of reporters. “Everybody asks me about it. It really doesn’t bother me. He’s another player to us.

“He’s going to play ball, just like Weston Dressler. Weston Dressler is a great player, so you can’t just worry about Fantuz. You gotta worry about (Darian) Durant and everybody else.”

The 6-foot-4 Fantuz, who led the CFL with 1,380 receiving yards last season, had a failed tryout with the NFL’s Chicago Bears this summer and officially rejoined the Riders on Wednesday. He is ready to go after just three practices.

“I’m excited to play,” Fantuz said. “It feels great to be back in the locker-room with the guys, and I just can’t wait to get out there and play and get a win.”

The Ontario native said the quick turnaround will be no problem at all.

“It was nothing a few reps couldn’t take care of,” he said. “We went through a week of practice, and I’m feeling good and comfortable with the offence and I’m ready to go, so I don’t think there will be any issues with that.”

Fantuz plays the slot positions on the short and wide side of the field, so Hefney and fellow halfback Alex Suber are going to be responsible for much of the coverage duties.

Fantuz has never had a 100-yard game against the Bombers, and he has hauled in only one touchdown pass in seven career regular-season contests against the Blue and Gold.

One argument is Fantuz opens up space for other Saskatchewan pass catchers, which is probably true, but it doesn’t sound like the Bombers are going to pay him too much extra attention.

“He’s a good player, but we’re not going to change our game plan for him,” Suber said. “I don’t know what his stats were (in last year’s Banjo Bowl), but it’s not too much to be worried about.

“But their whole offence is pretty good, so we’re more concerned about that than just one guy coming back.”

Riders quarterback Darian Durant figures the Bombers should be worrying about his favourite target.

“He can have a huge impact,” Durant said. “He’s always been a big part of what we do, and we’re putting him right back in the same spot that he vacated. So I think his presence is going to be felt out there.”


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