By KIRK PENTON, STAFF REPORTER
One year ago this week, William Fields was the CFL's defensive player of the week.
The only reason he's starting this week for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is because his good buddy, Omar Evans, is hurt.
That's life in the CFL -- especially when a new coach comes to town.
Fields started all 18 games for the Bombers last season, but the cornerback lost his job to Stanford Samuels this spring under new boss Doug Berry.
Fields, a 28-year-old who is in his sixth CFL campaign, began this season as a backup, didn't dress for the second game and returned as a backup last week against Edmonton.
Now that Evans is out with a groin injury, Samuels will take over for him at the short-side cornerback position and Fields will start at the wide-side cornerback spot on Saturday at Rogers Centre against the Toronto Argonauts.
"It's very tough, because there really is no reason for me not to be playing," said Fields. "People out there see me now playing, and it's like, 'Well, William, what happened? You must have fallen off.'
"But it was no falloff. If anything, it was a pickup. Different coaches, different preferences, I guess. But I'm out there now, and I'm happy to be out there. I feel I got a lot to prove."
Berry has nothing against Fields and believes he is a solid cornerback. That's why he's still on the roster.
"We don't feel we're in any significant downgrade when he's on the field," said Berry. "We just felt like the talent that we have, with the scheme that we're playing, that Omar and Stanford are better suited for the positions we're asking them to play.
"That doesn't mean that Willy can't be effective when he's in there, because he can."
But it sounds as if Fields will be a backup as long as Evans and Samuels are around. Fields, who has 13 career interceptions, is going to do everything in his power to change that.
"I'm a fighter. It happens every year," he said. "And like I always say: If they don't love me now, they'll love me sooner or later."
The theme around Bomberville this year revolves around "the new attitude," and Berry certainly likes the outlook that Fields possesses.
"I haven't seen one negative iota from Willy Fields," said Berry. "He's handled this like a true professional, and actually, in my opinion, he's still having fun here."[/i]