Grant looks for more than returns


JANARION Grant is one of the best kick returners in the CFL.

He only needed 11 regular season games in 2019 to prove it, too, as the return man out of Rutgers scored three punt-return touchdowns — two of which were in his very first game. He was dynamic on kick returns as well, as he led the squad with 600 yards on 25 attempts.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSWinnipeg Blue Bomber Janarion Grant (80) practices at training camp in Winnipeg Sunday, July 25, 2021.</p>
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JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSWinnipeg Blue Bomber Janarion Grant (80) practices at training camp in Winnipeg Sunday, July 25, 2021.

Reporter: Allen

But entering his first full CFL season, the 27-year-old Florida native is hungry for more.

“I know I’m just labelled as a special teams guy but I know in my arsenal, I’m a wide receiver first and special teams second,” said Grant, who also returned a missed field goal for 61 yards.”I can bring a lot of things. I’m always itching to do something better. I’m ready to score touchdowns and put my team in as best position as possible.”

The problem is, the Bombers have a lot of depth at receiver. Returnees Nic Demski, Kenny Lawler, Rasheed Bailey and Charles Nelson have made a lot of noise at camp, as have some new faces such as Kelvin McKnight, ArDarius Stewart and Carlton Agudosi. But when you have a playmaker like Grant, you find ways to put the ball in his hands.

“He’s come in and he’s obviously paid attention in the off-season and learned his playbooks. He’s come in and he’s caught a lot of footballs for us,” head coach Mike O’Shea said.

“If you’ve got a guy on the roster, you want to use him. You don’t want guys just standing around, you want to be able to use them and the next step for Janarion was to have a much better understanding of the offence and come in prepared to compete for a position on offence. That doesn’t preclude him from doing special teams, by any stretch of the imagination, because he’s a premier returner in this league, and we’d like to see that also.”

RECEIVER GOES DOWN

Wide receiver Blake Jackson was carted off the field towards the end of Sunday’s training camp session.

Jackson played Division III football at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor as a quarterback and led the team to a national championship in 2016 en route to being named the game’s MVP. To make it in the pros, he converted to receiver and spent over a year on the Cleveland Browns practice roster. He was also in the XFL with the Houston Roughnecks prior to arriving in Winnipeg.

HELLO IG FIELD

After 16 days of training at the University of Manitoba turf field, the Blue Bombers will head inside IG Field on Tuesday. The stadium was occupied by the Canadian Premier League bubble, also known as The Kickoff, which officially wrapped up Saturday.

“You see players going back and forth to lunch and they’re videotaping the stadium,” O’Shea said.

“It’s a beautiful building and a great place to play so it’s always nice to sort of be in your home. Hopefully the CPL soccer event was a success and now they’re gone, so we can get our field lined and get back into our normal surroundings.”

The Bombers will take today off — their first break since camp opened.

SCRIMMAGE? NAH.

Teams around the CFL have been holding official scrimmages in recent days, but the Blue and Gold are taking a different approach.

“Every time we run a competitive period, it’s a scrimmage. We had officials at practice, we’ll get officials again this week. We run scenarios, we start off a lot of periods with scenarios or that kind of understanding in the huddle. What’s missing is a transition to the special team in between, but we’ll take care of that,” O’Shea said.

“It doesn’t have to be a full game-like deal. Every time we step on the field and it’s a competitive period. That, to me, is a scrimmage.”

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

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