Hot 'Gades shuffle deck

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

The way Renegades linebacker Jason Kralt sees it, football players are like lawn gnomes.

"They can put us in a different spot in the garden each week," said Kralt, who will again be in a backup role tomorrow night when the Renegades play the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg. "Some weeks you're near the hedge."

The Renegades garden has been particularly fruitful the last few weeks as the 5-3 team is riding a three-game winning streak and is in first place in the CFL's Eastern Division.

But the Renegades coaching staff will move the gnomes around again tomorrow night as D'Wayne Taylor will become the Renegades fourth starting middle linebacker this season.

Kai Ellis, who started there last game, shifts to defensive end with Anthony Collier, the CFL's sack leader, out with a concussion.

Kralt has given the Renegades dependable play at middle linebacker after Keaton Cromartie went down with a serious knee injury. Kralt started three games at the position.

He's obviously disappointed to lose the starting assignment, but accepted it with a grim resignation.

"I fully expected it," he said. "I didn't come into camp as (the middle linebacker). I came in as the trusty Canadian backup.

"There's so many reasons why you are (starting) or aren't (starting) and you're never going to get a straight answer," he said. "You've just got to go out and play. I've been around long enough to know it's expected."

With veteran linebacker Gerald Vaughn poised to return to action tomorrow night after missing the last six games with a hamstring injury, coach-GM Joe Paopao is shuffling things up again.

Vaughn will line up at weakside linebacker, Taylor will start in the middle and Kyries Hebert will be on the strong side. They will be backed up by rookie Cam Yeow, Kralt and Robert Grant, respectively.

"(Taylor) is coming on each week," said Paopao. "He's a typical young kid. He was a backup for two years (in Saskatchewan) and each week his play has just grown right in front of our eyes."

Paopao likes Taylor's speed and with Ottawa facing Blue Bombers running back Charles Roberts this week, the Renegades can't have enough speed in the lineup.

Vaughn had been reduced to the role of cheerleader.

"You can't get hurt around here. You've got guys stepping up and making plays and it's hard to get back on the field," said Vaughn.

"The guys were great. The way I figure it, they didn't want to rush me back from the injury and be out for the rest of the season."

Paopao said Taylor and Kralt will probably wind up splitting the middle-linebacker duties since both have responsibilities on special teams, as well.

"Cam Yeow will get some quality snaps, too," said Paopao. "I really like the philosophy of playing them all. When you have two or three (different) guys hitting the same running back, he's going to wear down a lot quicker."

"The thing that stands out on that team is their speed on defence," Bombers coach Jim Daley told the Team 1200 yesterday. "One thing (Winnipeg quarterback) Kevin (Glenn) needs to do Friday night is be sharp in his decision process and make sure that we protect the ball.

"Ottawa is running away with the plus-minus category in turnovers. We don't want to contribute to a momentum change by increasing their league lead."

Meanwhile, Collier is still suffering headaches, and Paopao said Dr. Mark Aubry would not sign off on his return to action this week.


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