WINNIPEG - Mike Renaud has made the seamless transition from question mark to bright spot.
After losing his job down the stretch last season and facing stiff competition from Eric Wilbur in training camp this year, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers punter has bounced back in a big way.
Through seven games, Renaud has been the busiest punter in the CFL (56) and he’s currently sitting second in the league in net punting — marking an impressive turnaround for the fourth-year pro.
“It has a lot to do mental toughness, patience and keeping the faith that you’re going to get another opportunity to prove it to everyone again,” said Renaud.
“I was fortunate enough they had faith in me to bring me back and the rest is history. It was no easy task, but I’m here today. My goal is to continue to get better every week to assure (coaches and management) for this year and for the future that I’m the guy.”
Having to watch from the sidelines as his teammates participated in the 99th Grey Cup last November was no easy task but he did the best he could in the role of cheerleader.
“It motivated me, more than anything, to never be in that situation again,” said Renaud.
“To work my tail off, that was my focus during the off-season.”
Just last week, Renaud boomed his biggest punt of the season (a 66-yarder) while standing in his own end zone, then pinned the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at their own two-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
To top it off, Renaud came up with an important fumble recovery after Henoc Muamba stripped the ball out of Chris Williams’ hands during a lengthy return.
“That was my first fumble recovery in the CFL,” said Renaud. “That was just pure hustle and not giving up on the play.
“I forced (Williams) back inside, Muamba stripped the ball and I was just there to fall on it.”
Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said he believed Renaud would return to form.
“That’s why we kept him,” said LaPolice. “He’s very disciplined and he has confidence in himself. He’s certainly produced this year.”