WINNIPEG - He’s one of the old dogs now, about to turn 33 on a team loaded with pups.
So when Terrence Edwards speaks, it’s worth a listen.
Monday, the receiver, a fresh contract extension in his back pocket, spoke with the Winnipeg Sun from his Atlanta home for nearly half an hour, touching on virtually every hot-button, off-season issue surrounding the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
In a nutshell, Edwards believes head coach Paul LaPolice was smart to drop the play-calling duties, Brendon LaBatte, Greg Carr and Odell Willis will have big years with their new teams — and it’s time for a crackdown on the “B.S.” in Bomberland.
We’ll start, of course, with the B.S..
“We need to just step up and let people know this is a different season,” Edwards said. “We’ve got to come in with a different attitude, and all that B.S. that goes on is going to be left at the door.”
If you’ve been following the Bombers, you probably know what Edwards is talking about.
“Just the B.S. that goes on throughout the season,” he said. “Tweets are going to be cut down. That’s one thing. I understand you want to vent your frustrations, but you can’t go on a forum where it goes outside the locker-room.”
It’s been one social media migraine after another for the Bomber front office this winter.
If it wasn’t Jovon Johnson bellyaching about the lack of progress on his new contract, it was Jonathan Hefney and Deon Beasley dumping on GM Joe Mack for losing players to free agency or Hefney tweeting an obscene photo.
Edwards acknowledges the Bombers must do some growing up.
“Of course we do. It’s professional sports. I tell people all the time, don’t do anything that jeopardizes your paycheques.”
As for losing two all-stars and a promising, big-play receiver, Edwards didn’t mince words: it’ll hurt.
On Carr: “There’s one guy I’m going to hate to see go. Edmonton is getting a great player, but also a great guy.”
On LaBatte: “The glue of the offensive line. It’s going to be hard to replace Blue. You don’t find great Canadians like that every day.”
Edwards was perhaps the most passionate about the controversial Willis, traded to Saskatchewan. The two are close, working out daily together in Atlanta.
“Odell got a tag on him... he’s been labelled,” Edwards said. “But Odell is a great guy. If you know Odell Willis on a day to day basis, he’s a good kid, doesn’t mean any harm to anybody.”
Willis had his own Twitter adventures at last year’s Grey Cup. He’s lacked discipline on and off the field, too, drawing an impaired-driving charge just a week ago.
“I saw a change in him this whole off-season,” Edwards insisted. “I talked to him (Monday). We were at the gym before anybody else. He’s taking it as well as he could. He made a mistake, he’s going to face it and move on from it.”
And have a big season with the Riders.
“He’s going to be missed by the fact that he’s the best pass-rusher in the league,” Edwards said. “Those two games we play against him he’s not going to do anything, but other than that he’s going to have a great year.”
Edwards figures the Bombers will, too, even though they haven’t done much over the winter.
He points to LaPolice relinquishing the offensive co-ordinator’s job.
“With a young team, coach LaPo at this point just needs to focus on being a head coach,” Edwards said. “You’re going to see a dramatic improvement in his player relationship... he always had an open door policy, but now it’s really open door.”
And finally, a promise from Edwards. Two, actually.
He’s going to be more vocal. And he’s going to be better.
“I’m going to challenge players, I’m going to challenge myself,” he said. “To play one notch better than last year.”
For an old dog, that’d be a pretty good trick.