Receiver Chris Matthews joins Bombers for practice in Guelph, ready for action

Receiver Chris Matthews joined the Bombers in Guelph and will start for Winnipeg in Toronto.

Matthews did not play when Winnipeg lost to the Ticats 23-15 in Week 7, the Bombers elected to go with Kenny Lawler over Matthews against Hamilton.

Lawler had seven catches for 83 yards and one touchdown versus Ottawa in Week 6. After the game, Matthews travelled to be with the blue and gold for practice. Recently Matthews was involved in an incident at a downtown Winnipeg restaurant.

“I don’t want to speak on that. If there’s anything else about playing on the field, practice, games, anything like that I’m more than welcome to answer that. But anything else I’m not really ready, I’m not trying to answer those questions,” Matthews said.

“He didn’t make the trip for the game day, we don’t travel with the non-playing players. Chris’ status regardless of what happened the other night was going to be the same, he’d be coming in with all the other guys to practice this week. He’s ready to go if needed,” general manager Kyle Walters said.

The Bombers stayed in Southern Ontario between games against Hamilton and Toronto, practising at the University of Guelph. Winnipeg plays the Argos on Thursday at BMO Field.

Matthews has missed the last three games. The 29-year-old played in his first game of the 2019 season during Week 3 against the Edmonton Eskimos recording two catches for 16 yards – there was a long play wiped out by penalty. Prior to leaving the contest in the nation’s capital on July 5, Matthews had one grab for 10 yards.

“It’s just the unfortunate, freak injuries, those are the only things that have been keeping me off the field. I’ve been out so I have no choice but to be fresh. Internally it’s up to me to show them that I am ready on the field,” Matthews said.

“I want to pick the level up. I want to be that missing piece that they need to keep on going because we’re already pretty good on offence. I just feel like me personally I can make you better. Not in a selfish way or anything, it’s just how I feel about myself and my game-play.”

The six-foot-five, 230-pound pass catcher had been dealing with a lower body injury which caused him to miss Winnipeg’s Week 1 win in B.C. He signed a three-year contract with the Bombers in May. He originally broke into the CFL with Winnipeg in 2012 and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie that season.

“It’s home for me. I want to make a name for myself somewhere where they love me and I love them,” Matthews said.

“It didn’t have anything to do with the money or anything like that. Not to say that money isn’t good, bu that’s not what it was for. It was definitely about building a legacy.”

Winnipeg views Matthews as a strong physical presence when on the field and he has earned the opportunity to play again.

“He did miss a significant chunk of camp and then he got hurt again fairly quickly,” head coach Mike O’Shea said.

“I’ve said all along I believe he’s going to help us win a lot of game this year.”