REGINA — Weston Dressler may only be 5-foot-7, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play a huge role with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The 27-year-old is putting the finishing touches on what has been the best of his five seasons as a Rider and it was capped off this week by being named the Rider player of the year by the fans, but also given his first ever nomination as the team’s Most Outstanding Player.
He goes into this weekend’s regular season finale with 94 catches for 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns—that last figure is the most receiving touchdowns scored by a Rider since Jeff Fairholm in 1991.
It has been quite the ride for Dressler since he showed up in Riderville prior to the 2008 season. He made an immediate name for himself that year and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie. Dressler admits that while 2008 was a great season for him, he is a much better player now as the 2012 regular season winds down.
”I look back at that first season here and I was just running around trying to catch the ball and make plays without understanding what I was doing,” Dressler said.
“When I look at it now, I can recognize the defence, see what they are doing pre-snap, try to get on the same page as the quarterback and make some different reads within a play to make a play work. I have learned a lot about this league and I think I still have a lot to learn.” Head Coach Corey Chamblin was well aware what kind of weapon he had in Dressler when he took over.
While with the Stampeders and Tiger-Cats, Chamblin has had to put together specific game plans in order to contain Dressler. However, he of all people knows that it’s easier said than done.
“He is a gifted individual,” Chamblin said. “When you look at him, you don’t think he has the talents that he has, but when you see his heart and speed, you see how tough it is to cover a guy that has the attitude and desire that he has. He certainly is deserving of the honour he has been nominated for.”
Quarterback Darian Durant is biased, but he says there is no doubt in his mind that Dressler should be the named the CFL’s best during Grey Cup week and that he should be in the discussion when it comes to great pass-catchers that this team has had over the years.
“No doubt about it. He definitely deserves to be a part of the conversation when you look at some of the players that have worn this uniform. He’s only 27 and he has a long ways to go,” proclaimed Durant.
“He has had four one-thousand yard seasons in his five years here and the only year he didn’t, he was on his way until he got hurt. When it’s all said and done, he will definitely be one of the greatest if not the greatest receiver this team has ever had. When you look at this season, I don’t know if there is a receiver or a player having a better season than him.”
As talented as the University of North Dakota product is, he is also as modest. He is sheepish in discussing his season and is thankful for getting recognition.
“It’s a great honour to get this kind of nomination and know that what I’ve done is help this football team.” Dressler said. “I’ve always worked hard and done things to make me a better football player. This just reinforces what I’ve been able to do.”
While Dressler is appreciative of the team nomination, he is also very touched at the fact that he was named the player of the year by fans in a place where football is loved.
“It is special to win that award,” Dressler admits.
“The fans are the best in the league and they are a unique part of this organization that you don’t see in other places. As a player, you learn to appreciate that relationship between the players and fans. I didn’t know how rabid it was when I was in North Dakota, but I recognized it fairly early and it still continues to amaze me as to what some fans do and what support they give. There are times when it might be tough to just blend in when you are in the city living your life, but it is great interacting with the fans off the field and getting to know them and vice-versa.”
While Dressler is not likely to see any action in the team’s regular season finale Saturday in B.C, he will be a big part of the playoff plans for the football team no matter if they go through the West and take on Calgary in the Western Semi-Final on Nov. 11 or if they go into the playoffs via the crossover and meet Toronto in the Eastern Semi-Final.
Having captured an MOP nomination and a player of the year award, Dressler says the best way to finish it off would be by taking the Triple Crown with that third jewel being the Grey Cup which is something the team has every intention of winning even though they go into Saturday’s game having lost their last three.