“This is home. I love Winnipeg and this is where I wanted to be.”

Kyrie Wilson figured he had two options when his 2022 season came to a crashing conclusion back on July 4th in Toronto:

Option #1: the veteran linebacker could mope about the Achilles injury that instantly ended what was already shaping up to be arguably his best season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Option #2: he could lean on his faith, the Blue Bombers training staff, his teammates and coaches to help pick him up during the arduous and potentially frightening long rehab. And then he could try to be a positive influence on everyone around him.

Wilson chose Option #2 and he, the Blue Bombers and anyone who experienced his positive outlook on a daily presence over the months of recovery is certainly better for it.

Wilson, in case you missed it, has scribbled his name on a new one-year contract with the Blue Bombers, the news of which became official on Friday.

“The injury was tough for a second. But I really made peace with it early and trusted God in what I was going to go through,” said Wilson Friday in a conversation with bluebombers.com before heading to his offseason home in Bakersfield, CA. “The first game I was out was tough and the championship game was hard because I wanted to be out there.

“But aside from that, I just wanted to stay positive and not let whatever I was going through affect the team. I might have been out of the games, but there are different ways to stay in the game by helping your teammates if they have questions. I tried to do my best to help the team.”

That approach and, quite clearly, his football skills had the Blue Bombers eager to get the 30-year-old versatile linebacker back in the fold. Wilson already had 17 tackles and a sack in his four games when the injury occurred and has the skillset to play both the middle and weak-side linebacker positions, along with the speed to drop back and help in pass coverage.

And then – Poof! – his season was done in an instant.

“It was so crazy,” said Wilson. “This was my first-ever surgery and first-ever major injury. When it happened, it was weird. I just thought somebody tripped over me and hit my foot. Then when I saw the video there was nobody around me. I was just covering; I wasn’t even by the play. Again, it was just weird.

“At first, I thought I was over-reacting. I had Al (Couture, Head Athletic Therapist) and the training staff out there on the field. I didn’t even really think I was that hurt. And then when I got up it was, ‘Oh… there is something wrong.’ It hurt a little bit, but it just felt like something was off.

“It didn’t feel right. Then the area feels all gushy, like there’s no cartilage. You can still move you move your foot, but it’s like there’s nothing there at that area, if that makes any sense.”

Originally signed by the Blue Bombers in the spring of 2017, Wilson has now appeared in 35 games in a Blue Bombers uniform with 96 career tackles, four sacks and one interception for a touchdown while playing a pivotal role in the 2019 and 2021 Grey Cup championships.

All of that had him eager to return rather than test free agency. In addition, there was the familial feel he got daily while going through his rehab.

“The rehab is just like you’re back training in the offseason. You’ve just got to attack it, stay positive,” Wilson said. “It was so helpful to have the whole training staff help me and encourage me and push me through it all. They’re a great training staff and I’m so thankful they were around. Plus, all the other people in there, like my teammates. We were all pushing ourselves to get right and get back. That helped so much, especially with all the coaches and teammates always checking in to see how I was doing. All those things help in staying positive and to keep pushing. It’s also part of why I wanted to come back here.

“I’m so happy where I’m at, so I never even thought of free agency,” he added. “This is home. I’ve been here for six years. I love Winnipeg and wasn’t tempted to see what might be out there. This is where I wanted to be.”

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