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Tait: Why we should watch out for Weston ‘quiet influencer’ Dressler

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers' game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday shows the wide receiver is anything but slow and old, writes Ed Tait.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers wide receiver Weston Dressler stretches out for a pass during CFL action against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at the brand new Mosaic Stadium, in Regina on Saturday, July 1, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor

Winnipeg Blue Bombers wide receiver Weston Dressler stretches out for a pass during CFL action against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at the brand new Mosaic Stadium, in Regina on Saturday, July 1, 2017.

Rewind to Canada Day, if you will, and a moment that had Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans leaping out of their sandals in celebration and Saskatchewan Roughriders fans spitting out their Pilsners in frustration.

There was Weston Dressler – kicked to the curb by the Riders in the winter of 2016 for presumably being too old, too slow and too expensive – in behind coverage and pulling in a Matt Nichols strike for an 87-yard touchdown, the longest of his career.

And less than a minute later, after the Riders botched the ensuing kickoff, there was Dressler wide open again for his second TD in 40 seconds as the Bombers erased a 17-13 deficit before many fans had even settled back into their seats at new Mosaic Stadium.

Now, to properly put these moments into perspective it’s important to really understand how much of an icon Dressler is in Regina. He’s into his second season as a Bomber and yet the stands were still dotted with hundreds of green No. 7 jersey’s with "D-R-E-S-S-L-E-R" stitched onto the back.

The diminutive receiver from North Dakota, a man who married a Regina woman and still lives there in the off-season, will one day be enshrined into the Roughriders Plaza of Honour.

And, likely, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, too. Especially if he has more games like Saturday.

Dressler is into his 10th Canadian Football League season now and there is some grey in his beard. But he led all receivers on Saturday with six receptions for 124 yards and the two TDs. He could have had a third as well, if Nichols hadn’t been a little too geeked up and overthrown him early in the second quarter.

Combining last year’s totals – in which he led the Bombers in receiving despite missing four games – and his numbers from Saturday and Dressler now has 86 catches for 1,127 yards and four TDs in blue and gold in 15 contests.

But it’s not always about the numbers and it’s here why so many in the Bombers dressing room are thrilled to have Dressler on board. He’s what many would call a ‘quiet influencer’. He doesn’t thump his chest or trash talk on game night and he attacks every single practice snap as if he is a fresh-faced rookie trying to catch the coach’s attention.

He’s often singled out by other Bomber receivers for his work ethic and his knowledge and on Saturday he was mentioned by rookie L’Damian Washington, who struggled early in his first CFL start but recovered to score his first TD – after some simple, but sage advice from Dressler about just keeping at it.

Nichols gushed about Dressler post-game, saying he was one of his favourite teammates of all time. And Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea summed Dressler up perfectly when asked about his performance against his old club.

“He’s good, eh?” said O’Shea with a grin.

Yeah, you could say that.

But too old? Too slow? Too expensive? Hardly.

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Ed Tait is the Blue Bombers Director of Content. His columns appear weekly in the Metro. Follow him daily at bluebombers.com.

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