WINNIPEG - Going into the season, the smart money was on Blue Bomber receivers Greg Carr and Terence Jeffers-Harris having monster years.
As for rookie Clarence Denmark, well, good luck making the team, kid.
Fast-forward 13 games, and Denmark, who’s played 12, is the one turning heads, shooting up the charts with at least two catches in all but one game and more touchdowns (four) than Carr and Jeffers-Harris, combined.
“It happens like that, guys come out of nowhere that you don’t expect to do anything,” veteran Winnipeg receiver Terrence Edwards said, Tuesday. “But I saw it in training camp. I saw he had the ability to put up great numbers, and he’s showing that now.
“He’s going to be a dominant player. Right now he’s just playing off his talent, really not knowing everything you need to know. Once he learns and understands every coverage and how to get open, the sky’s the limit for him.”
Edwards wasn’t the only one who saw Denmark’s potential in training camp.
Head coach Paul LaPolice says it all clicked for the Jacksonville, Fla., product the day the Bombers practised in Brandon.
“He had a steady training camp, and you just weren’t sure about him, ’cause he didn’t speak much,” LaPolice said. “And then we went on the road trip, he had an unbelievable practice. He had four unbelievable catches in that practice, and everyone was like, ‘Wow.’
“And then we moved his position. We moved him out to where he is now, and he really started to shine. He just keeps his mouth shut and gets better every week.”
That’s the thing about Denmark. In an age of ego-driven receivers only too happy to toot their own horn, he barely says a word.
Asked how he feels about his season, the just-turned 26-year-old says, “prettty good.”
On his one-handed touchdown grab in Toronto two weeks ago: “That was an OK catch.”
You get the impression, though, underneath that quiet demeanor resides a man with no shortage of confidence.
Asked if he’s surpassed his own expectations, he smiled: “No. Not by far.”
With 45 grabs, 578 yards and four majors, he’s certainly surpassed others’.
Signed without fanfare in May, Denmark’s pro experience is limited to short stints on the practice roster of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars the last two years.
If playing for his hometown team was the ultimate dream, the 5-foot-11, 187-pounder has woken up in Canada, where he’s on the borders of the CFL rookie-of-the-year conversation.
“Never would have imagined that,” Denmark said. “But it’s good to hear that. If people think so highly of me, I’m humbled.
“If this league will have me, great. I had my chances down south and I didn’t have as much fun as I’m having now. I’m all about playing, and having fun.”
Told what Edwards said of him, Denmark really started warming up.
“Coming from him, that’s big. He’s a great receiver. I come out and learn from him every day. That’s all I’ve been doing, just try to be in his shadow and learn everything he does.”
He’s out of the shadows, now.
That one-armed, falling grab in Toronto — one of the highlights of the season — saw to that.
Ask Denmark for his own personal highlight, though, and he goes back to his first pro touchdown, an 82-yarder against the B.C. Lions at the end of July.
“That was big for me,” Denmark said.
So big he kept the ball and gave it to his mom, back in Jacksonville.
That’s not all he’s kept from that day.
A spot in the starting lineup has been his, too, ever since. At the expense of one or the other of his two more well-publicized teammates.
“He played so well we couldn’t take him off,” LaPolice said.
You could say his play is doing the talking.
And it’s been nonstop.