Strong outing earns Houston promotion
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were so impressed with what they saw from second-year player Demerio Houston in a Week 3 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats theyve decided to shuffle the secondary to ensure him more playing time.
Houston, who played admirably at field corner in a 26-12 victory over the Ticats last Friday, has been promoted to boundary-side corner at practice this week, replacing Winston Rose. Rose has been shifted to the field-side corner, a spot that was occupied the first three games by another veteran in Tyquwan Glass, who was released early Friday.
The 25-year-old Houston finished with six defensive tackles against Hamilton, but it was a hit he laid on receiver Steven Dunbar Jr. that stood out the most.
Dunbar had just reeled in a catch when Houston delivered him a shot to the back, which popped the ball loose and into the hands of Bombers defensive end Willie Jefferson. Jefferson promptly returned the interception 30 yards for a touchdown – the fourth pick-6 of his career and fifth defensive score – that helped secure the win.
He owes me a ball, at least, Houston told reporters through a grin following practice Friday. I know hes got plenty to spare, so he can at least give me one ball.
Houston earned the start last week after Rose was ruled out of the lineup, placed on the one-game injured list with a sore ankle. With Rose healed enough to play, the Bombers needed to make a decision; if Houston was to continue playing, theyd need to make a spot for him, resulting in Glass departure.
The play of Demerio made it so it wasnt so much of a challenge (letting Glass go), Bombers defensive backs coach Jordan Younger said. Tyquwan Glass is definitely a talented football player, certainly capable of playing in the CFL. We just had a guy who has been showing himself in practices on a consistent basis and when he got his opportunity, played at a high level in the game. Thats the kind of thing we like to see around here.
Whats impressed Younger most about Houston is his comfort level despite playing in just seven games over the last two seasons. The game against Hamilton was his first start at corner, after having played mostly halfback in 2021.
Theres something about playing at your own pace and not allowing other people to dictate the speed that you play at, Younger said. I also think timing and circumstances have something to do with it. Last year, corner was one of the positions we were deeper at, so we had him working inside. This year, he gets to move outside and its just a good fit for him. All DBs are more natural on the outside.
The expectation is that Glass will get a shot elsewhere in the CFL. The 28-year-old has played 33 games over four seasons, registering three interceptions and one quarterback sack.
While he has experience, Glass had also struggled at times this season. He was beat for a touchdown in Week 1 against Ottawa, with Shaq Johnson getting behind him on a 20-yard score.
To be fair, it wasnt just Glass that was struggling. Winnipeg gave up 711 passing yards through the first two games, both wins against Ottawa. Against Hamiltion, Dane Evan threw for 237 yards and was intercepted twice.
The Bombers have also done well identifying young DB talent in recent years.
DeAundre Alford and Deatrick Nichols were both named CFL all-stars in their rookie seasons last year. Alford has since signed with the NFLs Atlanta Falcons, while Nichols is back for another year, and is arguably the Bombers best player in the secondary.
Perhaps that past success played a role in giving Houston a longer look as a starter.
We like the younger guys we have here, the newer guys we have here, and in order for them to keep developing, weve got to get them playing time, Bombers head coach Mike OShea said.
Demerio did very well out there. He continues to improve. He showed steady improvement through camp. He showed us last year that he was conscientious about learning. Hes a terrific athlete and he just keeps on making more plays every practice.
Houston played four years of college football at Southern University, finishing with six interceptions. He signed with the Bombers in 2021, playing four games at halfback and registering seven defensive tackles. He also played special teams, where he recorded three tackles.
That playing time certainly helped him get adjusted to the CFL game. With the help of Younger and his teammates in the secondary, he feels as comfortable as hes been in Canada and is looking forward to carving out a permanent role.
I definitely made the most of my opportunity, Houston said, but I have to keep stacking on the games and have a better performance this week. I feel Ive made a good impression.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.
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