Atkinson tries hand at coaching

SCOTT UNGER

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Usually, players turn to coaching to stay in the game when they're done on the field, but Blair Atkinson is turning to coaching until he gets back on the field ... or so he hopes.

After spending last season on the practice roster with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Atkinson was released by the pro club earlier this summer and has become the Manitoba Bisons' receivers coach, until a CFL squad finds itself in need of a Canadian pass catcher and comes calling.

"I've always wanted to coach after I am done playing football," Atkinson said. "Coach Dobie offered me the job, so I decided to take it. It keeps your mind in tune to the football game."

VANIER

"If stuff doesn't work out with the CFL, I am more than happy to stay with the club all year, watching them win the Vanier."

But, even his receiving totals with the Bisons may not be cemented in the record book yet. Atkinson still has one year of CIS eligibility left, if he chooses.

"I would need (to enroll in) 18 credit hours and I want to go back to finish my degree anyway," Atkinson explained.

"Hopefully it doesn't come to that. I'd like to be back in the CFL, but any football is good football.

"I hear I am the next (Canadian) receiver out there in the league, so we'll see. I am just sitting and waiting to see if something happens to my benefit. Hopefully I'll get a call."

HOOTON MOVES TO D: A surplus at the quarterback position forced Manitoba's Jon Hooton sit out last season.

With the same situation this season, Dobie had a little chat with Hooton to explain that his quarterbacking skills would not be needed anymore because of the standout season John Makie had a year ago.

"He reacted by saying, 'Coach, I'd be doing the same thing,'" Dobie said.

But Hooton will very much be a part of the Bisons squad this season, only it will be in the secondary.

"We talked about defensive back," Dobie said of how the transition came to be. "He worked all winter with our coaches. He's worked hard at it.

"He's dropped a few pounds ... and now looks like a big defensive back. I think it's going to be an interesting experience for Jon and for us."

CAMP DATES: Manitoba hits the field for the first time Saturday, with two-a-day practices running through the week.

The Bisons lone pre-season game will be played at University Stadium on Aug. 25 against a combination of the St. Vital Senior Mustangs and Bisons alumni.


Photos