Bombers add four Americans to roster

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced on Wednesday morning that the club has signed four American players:  receiver/returner Aron Cruickshank, running back Chris Smith, defensive end Jordan Lewis and defensive back Raleigh Texada.

Cruickshank (five-foot-10, 170 pounds) joins the Blue Bombers after NFL looks last year from Chicago and Pittsburgh, signing first as an undrafted free agent with the Bears before a stint with the Steelers. He began his collegiate career at Wisconsin and saw action primarily as a return specialist, taking back two kickoffs for touchdowns in 2019. Cruickshank then transferred to Rutgers and was named the Big Ten’s return specialist of the year in 2020 and during his three-year career with the Scarlet Knights averaged 23.4 yards per return. In 28 games over three years at Rutgers Cruickshank had 99 receptions for 868 yards and five touchdowns, adding five more scores as a returner and one rushing. In 2022, his senior season, he led the team with 913 all-purpose yards (385 receiving, 370 kickoff return, 115 rushing and 43 on punt returns).

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Smith (five-foot-nine, 194 pounds) spent part of last year with the Seattle Seahawks after signing as an undrafted free agent and then was selected by the San Antonio Brahmas in the 2023 XFL Rookie Draft last June. Smith rushed for 2,167 yards and 16 touchdowns over 53 games with the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns from 2018-2022, adding 52 receptions for 410 yards and three more scores along the ground and 1,556 yards and two TDs in kickoffs. He was named FWAA Second Team All-American in 2020, and First Team All-Sun Belt in 2021.

Lewis (six-foot-three, 223 pounds) comes to the Blue Bombers after originally signing with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL for 2024, but that franchise folded following the merger of the USFL and XFL to form the new United Football League. Lewis was a highly decorated player at Southern, helping the school capture three SWAC West titles while being named to two All-SWAC teams. In the 2021 spring season he won the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in the FCS after registering 27 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks and a forced fumble in just five games. He was also named the SWAC Defensive Player of the Year and College Football Hall of Fame’s Mel Blount Player of the Year.

Texada (five-foot-10, 188 pounds) returns to the Blue Bombers after first joining the team last fall as part of the practice roster expansion. Texada was a regular with the Houston Roughnecks of the XFL in 2023, finishing that season with 24 tackles and five pass break ups. He also had NFL looks from the Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins.

During his five years at Baylor, Texada recorded 142 tackles and four interceptions while being named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honour Roll four times.

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