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‘Fastest guy on the team’: Speed is biggest asset for Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Ryan Lankford

Ryan Lankford (84) of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the game at New Mosaic Stadium in Regina, SK, Saturday, July 1st, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras).
Ryan Lankford (84) of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the game at New Mosaic Stadium in Regina, SK, Saturday, July 1st, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras). Johany Jutras

Second-year Winnipeg Blue Bombers returner and receiver Ryan Lankford has no plans to relinquish his job on special teams, or on offence, for that matter.

“I’m taking it one day at a time.” Lankford said.

Lankford, 26, had the only kickoff return touchdown in the CFL in 2017. He seized the kick returner’s job out of training camp and held on to the role for most of the season.

“It definitely was a very satisfying feeling last year.” he said. “I took a lot of pride in making sure I was prepared every week, and like I always say, I had the easiest job out there if you believe that. I got another group of guys out there blocking for me making my job that much easier.”

But there are no sure things in the world of football, where you’re here one day and gone the next. Lankford was released by Saskatchewan after he played his first two seasons in the CFL with the Roughriders. He spent time on the Bombers’ practice roster late in the 2017 season and understands he’s now facing some stiff competition after the team brought in several talented pass catchers during the off-season.

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“You can never relax.” Lankford said. “A veteran told me when I was in the NFL, he said, ‘The moment you relax, the moment you think you’re good, you’re not. You’re gone.’ And that can happen in a split second. So I got to take every day like it’s my last.”

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Even though Lankford made his biggest impact on specials teams, he also made 20 catches on offence, including three of them for touchdowns. Over the winter he focused his attention on learning his “Y” receiver position inside and out.

“You can always get better.” Lankford said. “I had a coach once tell me, he said, ‘You can get better every day or you can get worse, you can’t stay the same.”

And Lankford has been very noticeable through the first week of training camp.

“He’s catching the ball really well.” said head coach Mike O’Shea. “He’s got good vision. Everyone knows how fast he is.”

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Speed is definitely Lankford’s biggest asset. But how fast is he?

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“No question about that, fastest guy on the team.” Lankford said.

“[I] like to think probably fastest in the league or one of the fastest.”

But that still won’t guarantee Lankford a job at the end of training camp.