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While some of his teammates were listening to some pre-game jams, or giving themselves a pep talk before Monday’s pre-season test at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, rookie receiver Kevens Clercius was letting out a bit of stress.

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“Probably about four or five times,” Clercius said Tuesday as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers resumed training camp at Princess Auto Stadium.

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Not diaphragmatic breathing or a relaxing yoga session — typical exercises to reduce stress and anxiety.

Instead, Winnipeg’s 2024 13th overall pick was doing something many athletes have done to manage the tension.


“I’m the type of person that for a game, I have to throw up a couple of times just to get out the stress, throw up a couple of times, get my first drive and then all of the stress is out,” Clercius said.

So this isn’t a new thing.

“No,” he said, smiling.

The Montreal native, who played three seasons of college ball at the University of Connecticut, might have to worry about his tooth enamel later down the line.

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But right now, he’s trying to sink his teeth into a roster spot with the Bombers.

Clercius’ performance on Monday during the Blue Bombers’ game against the Riders helped that cause. The 24-year-old hauled in two passes for 16 yards, including his first CFL pre-season major in Winnipeg’s 25-12 loss to Saskatchewan.

“It’s like a drug,” he said. “You score one, and all you want is more and more and more. It’s addictive.”

He always has been a wideout with his stalky 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame, and was used often in special teams at UConn with his ability to be a brute in that phase of the game.

Winnipeg’s receiver coaches had Clercius move to the inside at the slot position for Wednesday’s practice.

“I felt like it was something new, and I embraced it,” he said. “I’ll do whatever. I have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

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That’s been a bit of a theme in Clercius’ story.

Coming from a tough neighbourhood filled with violent crime in north Montreal, Clercius, a son of Haitian immigrants, has had to fight just to be seen.

Now, he’s showing that kids from his neighbourhood can strive to become pro athletes, overcoming barriers and adversity.

He had to learn English pretty quickly when he got to UConn.

He studied the language like he’s currently studying the Bombers playbook, and he earned a sociology degree.

And now he’s back in the classroom, so to speak.

“I’m — this being my first year — just trying to do the best that I can to help the team win,” he said. “If I have to be a backup, I’ll be a backup. If I have to only be on special teams, I’ll do it.

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“And if I get to start, just play at a high level to be able to stay as a starter. But I’m just trying to help my team win.”

The same can be said for Edmonton product Jonathan Rosery.

The running back/slot back rushed for 12 yards on three touches on Monday. He also caught both of the balls sent his way for 19 yards, 17 of which came after the catch.

The Bombers travelled 79 bodies for their first of two exhibition games, leaving only a handful of chances for each player to make their mark.

“For me to even get the ball five times, I know that’s special,” Rosery said after practising with the second-team offence on Wednesday. “This isn’t university football where I’m going to get the ball a ton of times each game.”

Rosery’s path to a permanent offensive role with the Bombers isn’t a straight one.

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The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder has Most Outstanding Canadian Brady Oliviera and veteran backup Johnny Augustine ahead of him at tailback and the likes of Nic Demski, Drew Wolitarsky and others, including rookie Clercius potentially, at the slotback position.

But head coach Mike O’Shea will find room if Rosery’s play warrants it.

“He’s that dynamic, versatile guy,” O’Shea said. “He’s a good athlete. He’s got some thickness to him. He can run routes, he can come out of the backfield, he can go downhill. He’s fun to watch.”

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O’Shea is well-versed in the 24-year-old, a player they have liked for a long time, going back to the scouting work the team did before taking him 62nd overall in the 2023 CFL draft.

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Rosery was injured in rookie camp last season and returned to Alberta for his senior year. He featured in eight games, finishing third in Canada West with 32 catches, good for 440 yards and three touchdowns. He added another 123 yards on 13 touches on the ground.

Going into Winnipeg’s final pre-season game next Friday at home to Calgary, Rosery is now looking to work on the constructive feedback he received from his coaches.

“I just have to press my blocks way more and slow down my feet,” he said. “I would always tell the young guys at Alberta that you think you’re going slower, but you’re really going faster.

“So I caught myself while I was watching the film and (running backs coach Jason Hogan) was saying I wasn’t tempoing enough and pushing my blocks enough. So against Calgary, it’s going to be in the back of my mind to slow it down a little bit … to help the o-line, help me and help the team.”

X: @scottbilleck

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