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March 16, 2019

“It’s a special place in a special city.” | Nevis re-signs in Winnipeg

Drake Nevis (92) of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the game against the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, AB, Friday Nov. 3, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

Drake Nevis doesn’t do the kind of stuff on the football field that grabs headlines or earns a spot on the plays-of-the-week highlight packs. And the veteran defensive tackle is completely cool with that; with just punching the clock every day and then rolling up his sleeves to get to work in the football trenches.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers clearly see the value in that, too, having signed the 29-year-old vet to a one-year contract today. A three-year Canadian Football League starter – the last two in Winnipeg – Nevis had been a free agent since mid-February before a deal to return to the Bombers was finalized.

“It wasn’t a nerve-wracking time at all,” said Nevis, in a conversation with bluebombers.com, on waiting this long to sign a deal. “I just kept myself focused, kept my normal routine and kept striving to be a better person and then no matter what, something would fall into place.

“It’s a blessing to be back in a place where the people all have the same mindset and that is to make that locker room better. It’s a special place in a special city.”

Nevis has played in 32 games over the last two seasons with Winnipeg, registering 48 tackles and three sacks over that span. But his 2018 campaign, while unheralded, might have been his best as he found a consistency and reliability in his game that made him a mainstay along the defensive front.

He rejoins a unit that also re-signed Jackson Jeffcoat and Jake Thomas – two other players who were on expiring contracts – returns Craig Roh and Brandin Bryant, has added all-star end Willie Jefferson and Canadian veteran Maxx Forde.

“The pieces to the puzzle are there,” said Nevis. “Getting (Jefferson)… man, that room is packed to the max with talent, with football IQ and determination. That’s a good group. It’s going to be fun.”

Nevis attributed the work he did with his trainer last season to helping him find the consistency and durability in his game. He also has matured enough to see that he is now a veteran voice in the room, and can be an influence to some of the younger prospects like Bryant, who lined up beside him for much of last season.

“I have a great trainer who helped me keep working on my foundation, but also helped me work on some areas of weakness,” said Drake. “But most of all, I just looked in the mirror and asked, ‘What can I do to get better?’ I’ve been a hard worker my whole life, but it was a matter of staying focused and doing the things that are healthy. There was a lot of educating myself off the field.”

Nevis will tell you a lot of this just comes with experience and maturity. He’s heading into his ninth season as a professional now after being a third-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2011 and remembers how much he was influenced during his younger days stars like defensive end Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Reggie Wayne – who, like Nevis, is from New Orleans.

“I’m a veteran guy now and you want to do what you can to set the tone because that’s what people did for me in the past,” said Nevis. “I’ve been around a lot of future hall of famers, Pro-Bowl guys… what they’ve taught me and what I’ve learned, that’s stuff that’s meant to be passed along to the younger guys.”