Roosevelt welcomed to Blue Bombers

Naaman Roosevelt, the newest member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, made his debut at practice Thursday after signing as a free agent earlier this week.

The veteran receiver was still in shorts and a T-shirt – Bombers’ merchandise, mind you – because he still had another day left to quarantine before he was allowed to participate. He was able to mingle with his new teammates, though, and having played with or against several of them, he was welcomed with open arms.

“I love Naaman as a person and I love him as a football player,” Bombers receiver Nic Demski, a former teammate on the Saskatchewan Roughriders, said. “He comes in and puts his hard hat on every day and his production just shows for itself. We have a great receiver room, but to add somebody like that is just going to give a little bit more dynamic features to it.”

Roosevelt, 33, signed with the Bombers on Monday to provide some much-needed help and depth at receiver. With injuries to ArDarius Stewart and Cameron Meredith, both of whom were released from the practice roster, and Demski and Drew Wolitarsky also working through some ailments, the Bombers needed bodies simply to run a good practice.

What they get in Roosevelt, however, is much more than a placeholder. He comes with years of experience, not only in the CFL but with Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros. Like Demski, the two played together in Saskatchewan for two seasons.

“It’s not just a guy you’ve sat down and watched tape with, but a guy you’ve gone to battle with and well, and you’ve been through camps with,” Bombers offensive co-ordinator Buck Pierce said. “When you look at the opportunity to add a veteran guy that’s had a lot of production in this league for a number of years, that’s a key piece for us. We’re excited about having him in the building and continuing to bring him along into how we do things here.”

Roosevelt was most recently with the Roughriders, spending five seasons in Saskatchewan between 2015-19. In 2019, he played in all 18 games, registering 77 receptions for 946 yards and one touchdown. His best season was in 2016, and while he only played in 11 games, he racked up 76 catches for 1,095 yards – his first of back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns – and had two touchdowns.

After the 2020 season was wiped out, Roosevelt signed with the Montreal Alouettes but was released during training camp. The Bombers asked the Alouettes about why he was cut and were told it was a numbers game.

Roosevelt said his decision to sign in Winnipeg had to do with the team and atmosphere around the organization. He had spoken to Collaros and Demski, among others, during the negotiation process and felt good about the fit.

“They were telling me this is a great locker room, a great staff and a great organization,” he said. “I definitely wanted to be a part of that.”

With Demski likely to return Sunday after missing the last two games with a hip injury, and Darvin Adams, Wolitarsky, Kenny Lawler and Rasheed Bailey rounding out the starting receivers, it’s difficult to determine where exactly Roosevelt will fit at the moment.

He does bring an added element of leadership, which should help guide some of the younger receivers, but he hopes to prove he’s got plenty of game left in him. And if he doesn’t immediately crack the roster, he’s likely an injury away from finding a spot.

“I’m a guy that learns on the field, so I got to run through (the playbook) a couple times and make those mistakes (out of the way),” he said. “Once I get on the field, get to run those routes and get to understand where I need to be I think I’m going to catch on fast.”

TIME CHANGE: The CFL has found a new date for the postponed Week 4 matchup between the Edmonton Elks and Toronto Argonauts, which will now be played on Nov. 16. As part of the reworking process, the CFL made a few changes to some other games, including the Bombers and Alouettes game on Nov. 13. The date will remain the same, but kickoff has been changed from 3 p.m. CT to noon.

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Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

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