WINNIPEG - He’s gone from wounded warrior to ‘Gladiator’ in a year.
At this time a year ago, Glenn January was still rehabbing a season-ending torn pectoral muscle wondering what his future as a pro held.
“I was feeling pretty crummy coming off the injury and, not being able to play at all last year was absolutely terrible,” the Winnipeg Blue Bombers import offensive tackle said Wednesday. “I can’t even tell you how brutal it was.
“But it was all worth it to come out and have the kind of season I’m having now, especially with the way our record is now.”
Yes, fast forward to this year, January won a starting spot out of training camp, has helped the Bombers register a 9-5 record and TSN bestowed its ‘Gladiator of the Game’ award on January for the tough way he blocked during the 33-17 victory over the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton on Friday.
“To come back and basically start at zero and play at a high level is a beautiful thing,” said the 6-foot-6, 297-pound Texas Tech product, who suffered the injury during the 2010 pre-season.
“There were a lot of questions in the air about whether or not I could even play anymore. The injury is one that has ended a lot of careers. There were a lot of questions about it and I’m just glad that it all worked out in the end. Winnipeg’s my home now, year-round, and I love playing for this team and I love playing in this city.”
January, 28, had to battle import offensive tackles Andre Douglas and Kelly Butler — last year’s starters — in training camp.
“We felt Glenn was a talented player, intelligent, and had a great camp when we got here,” said Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice. “Then unfortunately, he had the season-ending injury.
“We rehabbed him, kept him here, put him into competition with the two other talented tackles we had, and he won the job out of training camp. He has performed very well for us through the course of the year. There are things he can improve on but, all-in-all, he’s kind of what we thought he could be — a veteran who’s pass-protected well and put us into position to be successful.”
January was part of an offensive line that played perhaps its best game of 2011 versus Hamilton. It opened enough holes to allow tailback Chris Garrett to romp for 131 yards on only 18 carries, and only allowed two quarterback sacks.
“Yeah, we’re playing pretty well,” said January. “We continue to improve each week and that’s the goal, just to continue to build.”
January, by the way, earned a playoff spot for the first time as a Bomber and third time in his five-year career.
“This is the first time I’ve made the playoffs since I was wearing green (2008),” said the former Saskatchewan Roughrider, who also played for Toronto. “It’s nice to share that experience with these guys and hopefully, we can keep up the success we’ve had on the field so far.”