Blue Bombers running back Chris Garrett is all in even if he's odd man out

Chris Garrett is hungry to see action again and he should in Thursday's exhibition game. But after...

Chris Garrett is hungry to see action again and he should in Thursday's exhibition game. But after that, who knows what will happen with a plethora of good, healthy running backs in camp

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:14 PM ET

The inaugural Camp Burke ended, Tuesday, with 27 players breathing a little easier.

Thats how many have been told theyve made the team, Blue Bomber head man Tim Burke said.

Some are starters, some arent.

The rest will scratch and claw for paycheques one last time against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Guelph, Ont., Thursday.

Scanning the list of rookies and backups making the trip, one name jumps out: running back Chris Garrett, the only one of the Big Three suiting up for the second pre-season game.

What do we read into that?

That Chad Simpson and Will Ford are probably sure things.

And that the pile driver who rolled up 190 yards along the ground in the 2011 East Final against these same Ticats still has some work to do.

Its come to this for Garrett: a pre-season game loaded with no-names to prove he can still be the big name he was before he tore his Achilles tendon and missed all of 2012.

I dont think hes running as well as he was two years ago, Burke acknowledged. But its nothing physical. Hes just got to get back in the groove.

We just want to get him more reps. Get a feel for exactly where he is. He didnt get enough carries in the last game for us to determine if hes all the way back. Plus running backs just get better the more you use them.

Garrett, 26, doesnt argue with that. Hes as hungry for the ball as anyone.

After barely seeing it last week, hes ready to slice it up and butter it in Guelph.

I look at it like were playing Game 1, Garrett said. I dont look at it like its a pre-season game.

He cant.

Simpson and Ford will have their feet up back in Winnipeg. Hes playing for a roster spot next week.

But ask him about the turn of events that has him on the outside, looking in, and he defaults to the mantra the coaches preached as camp kicked off.

Im competing against myself and the other guys are competing against themselves, Garrett said. I cant control that. If thats the case, hey, thats the coachs decision. I dont make em, I just go out there and play.

It wasnt long ago Burke first raised the possibility of dressing Ford and just one of either Garrett or Simpson, since both are inside power runners to Fords outside speed game.

Asked Tuesday if Garrett is in tough to regain his starting job, Burke simply said, Hes got a chance.

Watching camp, youd have to say No. 19 looks like the No. 3 back.

Whatever Coach Burke says, I just go by it, Garrett said. Im a team player, first and foremost. And I want to get back to the Grey Cup. If he feels thats the best way for us getting back to the Cup, Im all for it. Its a long season. Things happen. Im just all in.

I half expected a bold statement from No. 19, a vow that we havent seen the last of him.

When Garrett replaced Fred Reid late in that 2011 season and began going on a tear, I always sensed an inner bravado, a love of the spotlight.

His low-key response to this challenge is admirable, if a tad surprising.

Everyone has pride, Garrett said. But sometimes youve got to put your pride aside for the bigger purpose. And thats the team. Im playing professional football. Not a lot of people get the chance to play.

With that, he began to walk away.

Make me look good, he said.

Hell have to do that on his own, Thursday.

Or it may be a while before he gets another chance.


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