Bombers running back Ford waiting in the wings
By JIM BENDER, QMI Agency
|Will Ford has played well in limited duty for the Bombers. (Chris Procaylo/QMI AGENCY)
First, there was Fred Reid, the tailback who learned the rushing ropes from Blue Bombers legend Charles Roberts, then replaced him.
Then there was Chris Garrett, who replaced an injured Reid so well that it ended his CFL career, at least for now.
Then there was Chad Simpson, who has shone as an injured Garrett's replacement. Now, waiting in the Winnipeg wings is a young and hopeful Will Ford.
Ford spelled off Simpson during Winnipeg's 34-12 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and scored a 17-yard touchdown so fast that fans could barely get the popcorn from the tub to their mouths before they realized what had happened.
"I'm happy just to help this team in whatever way I can — special teams and a little bit of offence, so I feel pretty good about it," said the lickety-split back, who finished the game with four carries for 31 yards and the TD.
"I've got pretty good speed and I've been working on it lately, trying to hit the holes, and I think I've got pretty good vision. The offensive linemen are playing good, too."
The 5-foot-8, 195-pound South Carolina State product claims he has "4.3 speed, give or take."
Ford, 25, is being given a second chance in Winnipeg. He had been out of football for two years when he got an SOS from the Bombers, who needed yet another injury replacement.
"I was at home working (in a warehouse)," he said. "Actually, me and another guy I played ball with opened up a training facility in (Jupiter) Florida and I was supposed to move to Florida on the first of August. I got the call (from the Bombers) a few weeks before that, so I had to put that on hold to chase my dream."
The Travelers Rest, S.C., native thought that dream was over after the Toronto Argonauts cut him two years ago.
"I suffered a high ankle sprain, so they released me," he said. "I came off knee surgery before I went to Toronto and I kind of rushed into it, which I shouldn't have done. But the passion for the game and it was a shot, so I had to go. But my body feels good now."
Ford won the MEAC rushing crown in 2008 but ended up in third place in his senior season based on yards per game. But don't expect him to unseat Simpson, who rushed for 134 yards on 19 carries and added another 58 on four catches.
Now, Ford is just thankful for getting another shot.
"You've got to take advantage of your opportunities," he said. "If it's only two plays, you've got to make the best of them."