Follow Tiger-Cats lead

TED WYMAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have got it right, for once.

They believe they have a fine young starting quarterback in Quinton Porter, and judging from what we saw of him last season, they could be on the money.

But Ticats general manager Bob O'Billovich has been around long enough to know that prospective No. 1 quarterbacks don't always turn out to be effective starters.

Quinton Porter could be the next Ricky Ray or the next Tee Martin. The next Henry Burris or the next Brad Banks.

The risk is too great to simply anoint a young, relatively untested quarterback, as the starter.

You need to hedge your bet and O'Billovich has done just that by signing former Winnipeg Blue Bombers pivot Kevin Glenn.

Glenn, the starter for 41/2 seasons in Winnipeg and a former nominee for the CFL's most outstanding player award, was signed to be a backup to Porter, but even moreso, as an insurance policy.

If Porter doesn't work out, the Ticats can hand the ball to an experienced quarterback who led his team to the 2007 Grey Cup game, even if he didn't get to play due to busted wing.

It's the smart move and one which could pay off nicely for the CFL's perennial doormats.

The question is, will the Winnipeg Blue Bombers follow the lead and make a similar move?

It says here they should.

There's not a lot of difference between Quinton Porter and the Blue Bombers likely starter Stefan LeFors.

Both have started a few games in the CFL and have shown promise.

Both have earned the faith of coaches and likely have bright futures in Canadian football but both need to be protected by an experienced backup.

Now one of them is.

LeFors, at this point, has Ryan Dinwiddie and Bryan Randall as his projected backups.

While those quarterbacks also have solid potential, neither is likely to inspire confidence in the masses as training camp approaches.

It would be great to see Dinwiddie get a chance as he has been a capable backup for a couple of seasons and even played in a Grey Cup game. We also like what Randall showed in limited opportunities last season.

But we'd be a lot more comfortable with the team's quarterback situation heading into training camp if at least one veteran starter was in the mix.

The names Casey Printers, Michael Bishop and Marcus Crandell come to mind.

Now let it be said, the Bombers brass have indicated they will work out quarterbacks with CFL experience at a mini-camp in Florida next month, so this situation is clearly on their minds as well.

Printers' agent Jason Medlock indicated his client won't be at that camp and that he would rather sit back and wait for the right situation, even if the wait extends into the season. This is not surprising given that Printers doesn't have a reputation for being a team player and isn't ready to concede that he's a backup at this point.

But if I'm the Bombers, I'm still trying to convince him to come to Winnipeg to compete for a job. If not Printers, then someone else.

Then, if LeFors, Dinwiddie, Randall or all of the above beat him out in training camp, so be it.

The Ticats were willing to pay for a high-priced backup.

Why shouldn't the Bombers as well?

K-MART SPECIAL: One of the greatest fields ever assembled was in Calgary for the Brier last week and Kevin Martin's team treated the opposition like a bunch of knee-sliders from the Wednesday night men's league. This is no knock on Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton, who did the province proud by making a run to the final. Nor is it a knock on Glenn Howard or Brad Gushue or Jean-Michel Menard. They all skip great curling teams who have the misfortune of going up against the curling version of the mid-70s Montreal Canadiens or the mid-80s Edmonton Oilers ... Speaking of the Canadiens, somehow we doubt this is what Bob Gainey had in mind when he dumped head coach Guy Carbonneau and took over behind the bench. The Habs are 1-2-2 since the takeover and are just a point ahead of the ninth-place Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference. If this sinks any lower, Carbonneau won't be the only Habs legend looking for work in a couple months ... There's no time of the year when the NHL shootout is more of controversial issue than right now. Every night, teams in the playoff races are gaining points by winning a post-game skills competition and the teams earning the most points that way are the most likely to be playing in late April.

ted.wyman@sunmedia.ca


Photos