Daley sticks with O-lineLittle change to roster for Regina tilt
By KIRK PENTON, STAFF REPORTER
Earlier in the week, it looked like big roster changes were in store for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In the end, that threat of mass substitution changed almost nothing at all.
Bombers head coach Jim Daley is making only two roster moves for tomorrow's important Labour Day Classic clash in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who at 4-6 have a one-game lead on the Bombers for the third and final playoff spot in the West Division.
The two players deactivated didn't just come off the active roster; they got cut outright. Wide receiver Reggie Jones, a four-year CFL veteran, and rookie defensive back Marcel Smith were given their walking papers.
The dismissal of Jones means Robert Gordon is back in the action after sitting out last week's loss to Montreal, while newcomer Markese Fitzgerald is in as a backup defensive back.
The most surprising part of all this is that the Bombers will go with the same offensive line that had a role in surrendering eight sacks last week in a 29-13 loss to the Montreal Alouettes. Even though the Bombers have lost five of their last six games and can ill afford another loss, Daley sounds quite comfortable with the O-line he will field tomorrow night.
"The best combination was the first group that we've had, but only because in this week of practice they played at a much higher level," Daley said. "Now, that's great, but as I told them after practice, we have no intention of, nor are we capable of, lighting a fire every week under any group.
"We need guys who bring some fire, who have a passion to play, because if you try to light a fire every week, it never works. We need guys who have fire."
You can bet the 40 players who hit the field tomorrow -- especially the much-maligned O-line -- won't leave much behind after having the fear put in them.
"Maybe that's what they needed," slotback Milt Stegall said. "Let 'em know that if you're not performing, we have guys who can replace you. I don't know if that was the plan or were they really trying to replace them, I don't know. Hopefully they play well because they know we need them. Without them, we can't do our job. I tell them all that all the time.
"If you're not doing your job, nobody on offence can do their job. Hopefully they understand that. I'm not saying it's just them; everybody on offence hasn't done a thing, but just the emphasis has been on the offensive line lately.
"They're going to come out and do a great job this week."
So the biggest move this week will be Gordon moving to slotback and Kamau Peterson shifting to wide receiver.
"I've had two years where I've had 1,000 yards at slot (1994 with Toronto and 1997 with Edmonton), so it's not like I've never done it before," Gordon said. "It's just catching the ball. I'm a first-down guy, so just throw it to me over the middle."