WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are getting a potent part of their offensive attack back just in time for their first home game of the season.
Cory Watson, one of the team's best receivers last season, is returning from injury and will be in the lineup when the Bombers host the Edmonton Eskimos on Thursday.
"He's physical, he's fast, he can break tackles," Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said Monday. "We're excited to have him back.''
In 2011, Watson's second season with the Bombers, he led the team in catches (69) and was third in receiving yards (793).
Watson admits he has a lot of work to do in order to get up to full speed. But he said he feels good and the team is ready to seek a little redemption after losing 42-10 to Edmonton in Alberta on July 13.
It won't be easy, though, as Edmonton (3-1) has the league's stingiest defence that will definitely pose a huge challenge for Winnipeg (0-4).
"I think we're up for the challenge," Watson said. "They have some weaknesses in their defence we need to exploit and, with our gameplan this week, I think we'll do good."
Watson brings more depth to a receiving corps which has already been one of the strongest parts of Winnipeg's offence this season, thanks in large part to the addition of rookie Chris Matthews.
"It's great to have Cory back," said quarterback Alex Brink, who will make his second straight start Thursday as incumbent Buck Pierce remains sidelined with an injured foot. "As a veteran he's a leader among the receivers.
"He brings a toughness to our receiving corps that I think is pretty important. He's really big for us in the running game but then in the pass game he provides a savvy that we've got to have out there."
Winnipeg's run game improved significantly with Chad Simpson's return from the injured list last week. He had 91 yards rushing and 31 yards receiving in a hard-fought 25-22 road loss to Toronto.
"I'm ready to go, second game back and it's a home game so I mean that's going to give our team a lot of morale," said Simpson.
Simpson says the Bombers know what they have to do to beat Edmonton and sees little chance of a repeat of their earlier blowout.
"A lot of miscommunication, a lot of beating ourselves up, no, I don't think it will happen again," he said. "We've got to play a complete game.
"Last week (in Toronto) we fought well . . . we've just got to build off that."
Watson's return also comes with an added bonus as the native of Dollard des Ormeaux, Que., improves the Bombers import ratio. Injuries have taken many starters out of the lineup and the Winnipeg front office has been busy flying in players.
One of the latest is import defensive lineman J.T. Gilmore. He was signed to the practice roster over the weekend but LaPolice says Gilmore might see action Thursday.
"He can push the pocket a little bit or he can push guys around," LaPolice said. "For a 285-pound (player), he's got a lot of power."