Plenty of room for Blue to show improvement

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:07 PM ET

With the outcome a rather moot point, you can sum up a pre-season football game in two ways: things you liked, and things you didn't.

Last night's debut for the 2006 Blue Bombers served up a decent helping of both.

The script played out nicely: a close game, with Bomber quarterback Kevin Glenn, the projected starter who still has his share of doubters, in for the final quarter, the game on the line.

The bottom line? The quarterback and his team weren't good enough, 25-24 the final.

But like we said, that's secondary in the pre-season.

Which brings us to the things we didn't particularly like.

Start with Glenn's six-yard pass on a desperation third-and-eight in the final minute. It's the kind of thing that drives fans crazy -- and can cost you a game.

HAVE TO ADJUST

Berry, shaking his head later, said receivers need to adjust in those situations, no matter what the play call.

"Sometimes in professional football you take things for granted," the coach said. "But we'll work on it."

Overall, Glenn was average, leading a hit-and-miss offence to just three points against a rookie-laden Montreal defence. If Berry was hoping No. 5 would grab the No. 1 job by the throat, he'll have to wait another week.

By comparison, Russ Michna and Mike Quinn each put up a reasonable seven points.

Brad Banks, the only Bomber pivot to put up a goose-egg, looked a little lost, aside from the odd bit of nifty footwork.

If this guy was the steal of the Ottawa dispersal draft, the Bombers must have grabbed a sack of post-dated cheques. Question is, will Berry be willing to wait?

On defence, a couple of big plays had '05 written all over them, one the first Montreal pass of the game (a 39-yarder from quarterback Nealon Greene), the other a late, back-breaking bomb out of the hands of Marcus Brady.

Another thing we didn't like, and we hate to say it, is this: Troy Westwood still looks like a field goal kicker trying to punt.

Old Lefty hit some dandies, but others look like they're coming in for a landing at Oak Hammock Marsh. If there's room on the roster for two kickers, import Brian Claybourn got his foot in the door.

We didn't like Berry's decision to take a knee on the last two plays of the first half, either. It's the pre-season, coach -- what are a couple of passes going to hurt?

Biggest brain cramp of the night, though, occurred when Anthony Malbrough bobbled a deep punt towards his own goal-line instead of letting it go. The Als jumped on it for the TD. And we thought Keith Stokes went to Toronto.

Things we liked?

Good to see '05 rookie of the year Gavin Walls pick up right where he left off, being in the right place at the right time and taking a Greene fumble 35 yards to the house. Some guys just have a nose for the big play, and Walls is one of them.

This guy Henri (as in Richard) Childs can carry the ball. He's not going to make anybody forget Charles Roberts, of course, but he does fit Berry's philosophy of consistent, straight-ahead running.

If Onterrio (the Whiz Kid) Smith doesn't get any of Roberts' action this season, Childs might.

Another thing we liked: Albert Johnson III returning kicks.

No. 87 looked this close to breaking a couple, including a missed field goal from his own end zone.

No complaints about the overall effort, either.

Oh, and one more thing.

Remember Berry expected to get a pre-game shot from his old boss, the Als Don Matthews, when they met at midfield?

"He got me," Berry said, declining to elaborate.

On the scoreboard, too, it turned out. But the opportunity for a real comeback comes in two weeks.


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