April 25, 2018

Washington ‘looking for a good opportunity’ at Bombers mini-camp


It’s his size that is noticeable at first, as Corey Washington is tall enough (at six-foot-four) to block out the sun and sports a long wingspan to match.

But speak to the 26-year-old South Carolina product for even just a few minutes, and what instantly overwhelms is his politeness – every answer is punctuated by a ‘yes sir’ or ‘no sir’ – and his pure joy at simply being back on the field again.

“Man, it felt good to be out there,” began Washington, a receiver prospect, after the first session of Winnipeg Blue Bombers mini-camp. “I’ve been out of football since August of last year and it just felt so good to be with team-oriented players and feel that brotherhood again and catch the football from a real quarterback again.”

There’s more behind this than just a simple case of absence from the game making his heart grow fonder for it. Rewind to last August, and one of the worst stretches of Washington’s young life.

He was in training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs when… what’s the old axiom about bad luck coming in threes?

“First, I lost my grandmother, Betty Polite, who raised me since I was two,” said Washington. “And a week later I got released on the same day of her funeral. After that, I signed with Dallas and strained my hamstring on a touchdown and three days later got released.

“Mentally it was just draining. But now I’m back. I wish I had come to the CFL last year but I had to be near my grandmother. I’m playing this game for her now. This will be my first season starting without her. It’s kinda tough.”


Washington is one of more than two dozen new receiver talents in Bombers training camp. His road from South Carolina to Winnipeg is dominated by stops all over football’s map. His college days were split between Georgia Military College and Newberry College before eight different opportunities in the National Football League – first with Arizona as an undrafted free agent, followed by stints with the New York Giants, Washington, Detroit, Atlanta, Buffalo, the Chiefs and Cowboys.

The Bombers have been chasing Washington during much of this stretch, too.

“Growing up, you dream of the NFL and so that’s the route I took,” Washington explained. “(The Bombers) never gave up on me and called me before I signed with Dallas. But everybody knows that’s ‘America’s Team’ and so I couldn’t pass up on that. Then it became too late to come up here during the season. Now I’m just glad to be back playing football.

“I’m looking for a good opportunity. This is a good spot for me to learn from guys like (Adarius) Bowman and the veterans who have been here. It’s different than the NFL, in terms of the techniques and how you play the game. It should be fun, though.”

“This is a receiver’s game, up here in the CFL. You can move around before the ball gets snapped and that should be fun.”

Washington researched the CFL – studying the pre-snap motion and how receivers use the wider field – by watching YouTube videos and visiting various CFL websites for highlight packages.

NFL teams have long been intrigued by his size and skill, and that’s a huge reason why one opportunity followed another down south. He’d show flashes in the summer – Washington was the Giants’ preseason MVP during 2014 camp – but now wants to take that next step from project to player.

What have so many teams seen in him over the past four years that has made him so intriguing? Washington offers this:

“I’m 6-4, I can run fast, I can jump, I can go up and get the ball and I’m very coachable. Yes sir. I don’t get in trouble outside of the football world or do any of that negative stuff.

“My goal now is to learn from these guys and help get this team to the Grey Cup.’



This is a camp heavy on receiver/defensive back candidates, and so naturally, the majority of work was tailored for those positions.

The Bombers have 46 players in mini-camp, but not all of them will make it past next Monday’s roster cut down to 75 (Winnipeg has 89 players currently listed).

Watchful eyes

Head coach Mike O’Shea has indicated this in the past, but it bears repeating: prospects are being evaluated on everything they do.

“Anybody that’s been to a pro camp before has heard that. I don’t think it’s new, every coach uses it,” said O’Shea. “The difference between our first year and now is that our players, our veterans, are letting them know what the standards are. Whereas in our first year and even our second year, we had to keep on repeating to them what our standards are. Now the conversation at the start of camp that everything is being evaluated is 30 seconds and then the vets take over and the room takes over and they, as a peer group, let them know what the standards are.

“We’ve only got a few rules and that’s be on time and be respectful all the time.”

First impressions

The first on-field session always has players and coaches geeked up to be back at work. That includes Matt Nichols, who was up and at the stadium before the crack of dawn.

“I showed up before 7 o’clock this morning and I was the first one in the locker room,” said Nichols with a grin. “I was super excited and I walked in there and thought, ‘I guess I’m three hours early…’

“You get out here on the field, the sun’s shining in Winnipeg. There’s no better feeling and I’m happy to be out here.”

“It’s the same as last year… the players start filtering in and the coaches have big smiles on their faces,” O’Shea added. “They can’t wait to get back out on the field and put into practice what they’ve been talking about and studying and doing those mad diagrams all season long. To get out there and actually see some young guys running around and doing what you’ve been thinking about is a lot of fun. That’s what coaches want to do – they want to be on the field coaching.”

Matt Nichols participates in the first day of mini-camp (BlueBombers.com)


Adarius Bowman is one of the veterans who has chosen to report for mini-camp to get acquainted with some new faces. And some old ones, too.

“I told Adarius while we were warming up before practice, it felt so natural throwing him the ball from all our time together but it looked so weird throwing to him in this uniform. That was exciting. There are a lot of smiles and a lot of guys excited in the locker room. I’m just happy to get out here and start to knock off that rust just a little bit,” said Nichols.

“I love mini-camp because you get back into it a little bit and you get a little bit of a break before training camp.”

He’s back

Veteran linebacker/defensive back Maurice Leggett was at mini-camp on Tuesday, primarily playing the spectator. Leggett, you may recall, ruptured his Achilles tendon last October and has made a remarkable recovery.

“I’m just right on time,” said Leggett when asked if he was back early. “First game is June 1st, that’s preseason, but I’m focusing on the regular season.

“It’s just a breath of fresh air for me. I get to put my helmet back on, I’m excited. This is my 11th professional year and I can’t wait to get back out there and compete.

“The biggest hurdle is the mental battle because when you first get out there it’s kind of tough to know what your limits are, or you don’t want to push it, you’re scared to get hurt again. You just can’t think about it.”