It will be a homecoming of sorts for Adam Bighill.
The veteran linebacker makes his first regular-season appearance at B.C. Place Stadium on Saturday since 2016 when he was with the Lions. But the five-foot-10, 230-pound Bighill is now a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, signing with them in May shortly after being released by the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.
Bighill has already made a major impact against his former team. He had six tackles and two interceptions — returning one 55 yards for a touchdown — in Winnipeg’s 41-19 home win over B.C. last weekend, earning one of the CFL’s top performer nods Tuesday.
“I wouldn’t say I spend a lot of time thinking about (return to B.C.) but I’ve definitely had it in my mind,” Bighill said. “At the end of the day it’s not a big deal but it’s a lot easier (after facing Lions last week).
“There’s a layer of difference here, but it’s the same.”
Bighill, 29, enjoyed a productive tenure in B.C. (2011-16). The CFL’s top defensive player in 2015, Bighill registered 489 defensive tackles, 69 special-teams tackles, 33 sacks, eight interceptions, eight forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown with the Lions.
Bighill has picked up with Winnipeg where he left off in 2016 with 27 tackles, second only to Montreal’s Chris Ackie (30).
“It’s been like riding a bike,” Bighill said of his CFL return. ”The toughest part was coming in and getting the terminology down.
“That took about three days and then I was back to full go.”
But Bighill expects to face a determined B.C. squad Saturday night. And that could also include a different quarterback in the form of veteran Travis Lulay, who led the Lions to the 2011 Grey Cup title after being named the CFL’s outstanding player.
“I don’t think we got their best shot,” Bighill said. “From that standpoint we’re going to be hard at work making sure we’re on top of our stuff and ready for anything they have.”
While Bighill anchored a solid defensive performance last weekend — B.C. had just 280 net offensive yards — the Bombers were also buoyed by the return of starter Matt Nichols. The 31-year-old was 16-of-29 passing for 162 yards and a TD after missing Winnipeg’s first three games due to a knee injury suffered in training camp.
Rookie Chris Streveler posted a 62.6 completion average for 615 yards with six TDs and two interceptions in Nichols’ absence. Streveler’s quick development gives Winnipeg a solid 1-2 quarterback punch, a crucial element for success in the CFL.
“Chris Streveler did some great things but Matt is a proven veteran in this league who’s shown he knows how to win,” Bighill said. “You could see what the offence did in terms of moving the ball and yardage and all that stuff.
“It was great have him back.”
Although he signed a one-year deal with Winnipeg, Bighill doesn’t have aspirations to return to the NFL.
“I think it is something I’m kind of done with,” he said. “I went down there and did some really great things and proved to myself at least that I can play in that league.
“I put it on tape, it’s out there for anyone to see. Sometimes there are things out of your control, out of your hands that don’t make sense and that’s just the nature of the game. From my standpoint I came in, I did it, I understand it and I’m just really happy to be back up here now.”
But Bighill said being with the Saints gave him something to add to his CFL repertoire.
“The styles are different so you don’t really have that same downhill game up here just because of the nature of the run plays we see,” he said. “But it’s a tool I can bring when I need it.”
Bighill has enjoyed a seamless transition in Winnipeg, which he credits to the club’s front office, coaching staff and his new teammates. Last year, the Bombers were second in the West Division with a 12-6 record and Bighill said consistency is key for the club in 2018.
“It’s all about being consistent and doing your job every play,” he said. “We’re never going to be perfect … but we (Bombers defence) have played some good games, we’ve challenged offences very well.
“We need to keep building on those things and proving we can do that game in and game out.”