Thursday, June 16, 2016
DRESSLER, SMITH HOPE TO BECOME DYNAMIC DUO
The new Blue Bomber receivers haven't been on the field together since June 4, when Dressler suffered a lower-body injury during practice. But the former Saskatchewan teammates are expected to be a dynamic duo again when Winnipeg kicks off the CFL regular season June 24 at home against Montreal.
"Any time Weston isn't out there I'm going to miss him,'' Smith said after Thursday's practice, which Dressler also missed.
"He helps me just as much as I help him. He's a great friend of mine, a great teammate. He's a great leader of this football team and just to have that veteran presence out there is going to be a major key to our success.''
Head coach Mike O'Shea said he's "very sure'' Dressler will be ready for the season-opener and his downtime shouldn't hurt his performance.
"I don't foresee any issue with that. I really don't,'' he said. "He's a pro, he knows his stuff. We had an offensive mini camp. And (quarterback) Drew (Willy) knows him so I don't think it's really going to be an issue.
"He's a fantastic football player and a great professional. I imagine the best thing is that he's going to be rested.''
Smith, who caught two touchdown passes from Willy in practice, including a long bomb in double coverage, said Dressler's absence has also been beneficial in some ways.
"Me and Weston, when we're together there's a level of comfort because we played with each other last year,'' he said. "But it's nice to get someone new in there for a little just to kind of try something new. Once Weston gets back, we're going to be flying around again, making plays.''
Winnipeg's receiving corps was overhauled in the after a 5-13 season, with Canadian wideout Rory Kohlert and import Darvin Adams the returning starters.
Dressler was signed in late January after being cut by the Roughriders. The eight-year veteran had a team-high 70 catches for 941 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games with last year's 3-15 squad.
He helped convince Smith, Saskatchewan's leading receiver from last year, to join Winnipeg on the first day of free agency. Smith put up a career-high 991 yards and seven TDs from 59 receptions in 16 games during his second season.
"He's extremely fast and can stop very quickly so he's great at getting leverage on guys,'' Willy said of Smith. "We just want to get the ball in his hands because he's going to make some great plays for us this year.''
The Bombers have been auditioning for the other vacant starting receiver spot, with Quincy McDuffie, Thomas Mayo and Fred Williams some of those battling for a role. Second-year receiver Addison Richards is on the six-game injured list with a broken hand.
"It's definitely going to be tough to see how it all shakes out,'' Willy said. "We've got a lot of guys fighting for spots and it's a good competition.''