Bombers' Sears making impact in secondary

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:28 AM ET

EDMONTON - It was a life lesson that’s stuck with Johnny Sears for a long time.

Many athletes don’t feel the sting of being cut until a later age while others are fortunate enough to never experience the feeling.

Sears wasn’t so lucky.

“I started playing at 10-years-old for the Edison Tigers, they had a Pop Warner team but I got cut,” said Sears. “But I stayed around and I got on (the team) by the end of the season. Then my dad saw I was serious about it and I’ve been playing football ever since.

“It was very hard. I went to my dad and I almost cried. He said ‘It’s OK to be sad. Everybody gets cut. It just means you didn’t do something or that you might not be ready yet.’ I took it as you’ve got to work harder to make sure I’m ready. That carried on for life.”

Wouldn’t you know it, Sears worked his way up the ranks and is now a CFL starter with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Sears will move from corner to halfback on Friday night against the Edmonton Eskimos and he’s been leaning on Jonathan Hefney (who is moving from halfback to linebacker) for a few tips on how to prepare to face a guy like Fred Stamps.

“I know it’s going to be a big test for me, but it’ll also be a big test for him. Every team has their star receiver and he’s just one of them,” said Sears. “The biggest thing is to hone in on the details, especially when you’re in a new position. You know the concept for the most part, it’s just little things, to recognize what happens in a certain situation, a certain down-and-distance or a formation they give us.”

As a youngster, Sears’ favourite player was Deion Sanders and he immediately embraced playing defensive back.

“I’m OK with being the bad guy or being the villain. I did like Batman but I’m OK with being The Joker sometimes,” said Sears. “The guys who take away the points, doing the dirty work. I was one of those labourer type of guys. I didn’t mind being the hammer and not the nail.”

After playing at both Michigan and Eastern Michigan during his college career, Sears signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent and attended training camp in 2010.

During practice he lined up against the likes of the man formerly known as Chad Johnson, and Terrell Owens.

He even managed to pick off Carson Palmer a few times in practice and acquitted himself well, but didn’t survive the final round of cuts.

“I hung on as long as I could. when I wasn’t supposed to, so that was a plus,” said Sears, who joined the Bombers late in the 2010 season and made one start in late October. “It was a great experience for me and I knew where I stood as a player. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”

Sears returned to the Bombers in 2011 and was turning heads in training camp before an ankle injury in the final pre-season game landed him on the nine-game injured list and limited him to four games upon his return.

“Don’t take anything for granted, leave everything on the field,” said Sears. “You don’t know what second it could be taken away. I had been hurt before, but not for that long a period of time. I had a lot of time to find myself, watch and be positive in a negative situation.”

Sears is expected to make an impact on special teams and defence this season.

“He’s a good athlete and all of those things, but he’s very confident in what he’s doing and he competes,” said Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice. “That’s what I like about him. And he makes plays.”

HASHMARKS

The Bombers added defensive back Darrell Pasco, running back Nathan Riva, long snapper Jordan Matechuk and defensive back Jeremy McGee to the 46-man roster this week, while moving running back Chad Simpson, defensive back Alex Suber, linebacker Brandon Stewart and Anthony Woodson to the one-game injured list. defensive end Kenny Mainor was moved to the nine-game injured list ... Friday’s scratches are expected to be centre Chris Kowalczuk, receiver Kurt Adams, Matechuk and McGee ... The Bombers announced Thursday that more than 26,000 tickets have been sold for the 2012 home opener on July 26.


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