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Former Argo Feoli-Gudono hopes to see more receiver action with Bombers

WINNIPEG - Receiver Julian Feoli-Gudino got on Winnipeg head coach Mike O'Shea's good side when they were both with the Toronto Argonauts.

O'Shea, Toronto's special teams co-ordinator last season, has made it clear how important he thinks special teams are in the Canadian Football League, and he wants his players who know that and be ready to step in when called.

And during his two seasons with the Argos, Feoli-Gudino says his role included a lot of special teams.

"I learned to play on special teams, something that I had never done before, and I think it helped me stick in the league," says the native of Costa Rica, who grew up in Montreal and played CIS football at Laval.

"With coach O'Shea I learned a lot. I used to be only a punt returner but I learned all the positions on special teams so that helped me out a lot."

And he knows it likely helped him land his current job, where he is likely to see more use on offence as well.

"On that aspect of the game he knew what I could bring to the Bombers and he knows I could be a reliable guy if he needs me to get in on special teams. I think he saw also what I could do on offence."

Feoli-Gudino joins Canadian receivers Cory Watson and Rory Kohlert on a team that is pretty thin on what the CFL is calling the "national" side this season.

He celebrated his 27th birthday on the weekend, as well as the fact that he survived the big round of cuts and secured a place on the team's 46-man roster.

He saw a fair amount of receiver action at training camp and caught two passes for 29 yards and a touchdown in Winnipeg's opening pre-season loss to the Argos.

"I've always been a receiver at heart. It's something that I love to do, catch the ball and make plays," he said.

He said he tried judo before he found football but seems to have made the right choice.

At Laval he finished as No. 2 in career receptions (238) in the entire CIS and was named the most valuable player of the Vanier Cup when he scored a 74-yard punt return touchdown and added another on an 82-yard reception.

"We had a blast there. It was an amazing program," he said. "We had great quarterbacks, a great offence. It was an amazing time."

He said he enjoys working with quarterback Drew Willy, who knows exactly where to put the ball. This is Willy's first season as a starting quarterback in the CFL.

"He knows his reads. His ball is amazing," Feoli-Gudino said. "His ball is always on the spot. I think we're all really comfortable with him at this point."

Meanwhile, neither Willy nor O'Shea say they're feeling any different this week as that crucial home opener approaches Thursday when the Argonauts return.

"No, I can't say it honestly does," said Willy. "You guys have seen my personality. I'm kind of the same way whether we score a million touchdowns or some bad things happen out there."

O'Shea says this is just one more test for the entire team.

"By the time we hit the first game we've all been tested several times," he said. "We try to approach it as even-keeled as we can and as consistently as we can in terms of preparation."

The Bombers need success and need it fast after finishing last season with just three wins. Season ticket sales are down perhaps 3,000 and, while the numbers would still thrill some CFL teams, the Bombers have to pay the mortgage on their new stadium.

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