The Winnipeg Blue Bombers left Toronto back in week 13 having lost a pivotal game to an East rival, but more importantly having lost the bulk of their backfield to two devastating injuries in a single game.
Fifth year star running back Fred Reid was lost for the season to a torn ACL. Carl Volny, an exiting rookie Canadian running back, aptly took over the workload until he sustained his own ACL injury, ending his season as well. What might have been a dire situation for the Blue Bombers ended up bringing to light one of the brightest young offensive stars of the Bombers 2011 season — import Chris Garrett.
After playing for the Ohio University Bobcats in college, Garrett joined the Bombers in 2010,but was cut during the 2011 training camp after a season in which he received limited playing time. Spending the first half of the 2011 CFL regular season at his home in Utica, NY, preparing for life after football, Garrett was resigned by the Blue and Gold in late August.
Less then a month later Garrett would find himself as the starting running back of the then 8-4 Bombers, heading into the backend of the CFL season in a push for the East Division title into the cold months of run heavy football.
The Bombers may have only won two games after losing in Toronto, but Garrett played well starting at tailback and showed flashes of brilliance in the final five games of the regular season. His greatest contribution came during the miserably cold and windy Eastern Final on Nov.20. In a game where field position and maintaining a strong ground game was crucial, Garrett rushed for 190 yards and a touchdown, essentially carrying a frozen football — and the entire Blue Bombers team — straight to the 99th Grey Cup in Vancouver.
Garrett was held in check to a disappointing 26 yards on the ground in the Grey Cup in Vancouver. Partially due to the Bombers getting behind earlier in the game, limiting the runner that got them to the cup to a lowely 8 carries. Although Garrett was not a vital part of the Grey Cup game, it was his tough running that helped the Bombers finish off their great season and get to Vancouver.
This leaves Coach Lapolice and the Blue Bomber organization with a huge offseason decision heading into next season. With running back Fred Reid coming off a knee injury and hitting the age of 30, what does the team do with Reid and his freshly renewed contract? With Garrett’s impressive play to finish the season, it could very well be the case that Reid has played his last game in Blue and Gold.
Whether its Reid, Volny, Garrett or Bloi-Dei Dorzon — currently on the practice roster — getting the majority of carries in 2012, fans in Winnipeg have to feel optimistic with the depth of talent the team has at tailback.