Changing of guard?

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 6:55 AM ET

As the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were putting the finishing touches on yesterday's 27-24 victory over Saskatchewan, three players, dressed in civvies, stood on the sidelines away from most of their teammates. You couldn't help but wonder how quarterback Khari Jones, along with receivers Robert Gordon and Reggie Jones, must have felt, helpless bystanders in the most important game of the season.

It also struck you that their absence, particularly that of Khari Jones and Gordon, may have been symbolic of a not-so-insignificant shift on the Bombers landscape.

Because while Jones, 33, and Gordon, 36, nursed a sore shoulder and some injured pride, respectively, quarterback Kevin Glenn, 25, was making 100-yard receivers out of 25-year-old Keith Stokes and first-year Bomber Derrick Smith, who's 27.

This was no small feat -- it had been more than two years since the Winnipeg offence put two pass-catchers over the century mark in a game.

That it produced its first 400-yard game since Week 1, with Milt Stegall assuming the role of bit player, no less, only helps to illustrate the point.

Which is this: yesterday's win may have pumped life into the Bombers' short-term prospects, specifically their hunt for a CFL playoff berth. But its most dramatic effect may be long term.

This was not your Blue Bombers of 2001 to 2003. What a season-high Stadium gathering of 27,160 may have witnessed was a changing-of-the-guard, so to speak.

Out with the old, and in with the new.

Now, that's not to write Jones, et al, out of the picture for good.

Bombers head coach Jim Daley was quick to point out the former CFL MVP's accomplishments following the game.

But let's face it: No. 17 is suffering through his worst season since becoming a starter. Burdened by his health, huge expectations and a salary to match, it's not a stretch to say his job is hanging by a thread.

And if Glenn, the air apparent, isn't poised to cut the string himself, he's certainly supplying the scissors, leading the Bombers to critical back-to-back wins and putting the word "playoffs" back into the team's collective vocabulary.

"We have depth at that position, the most important position," said Daley, the diplomat. "And we're lucky to have it. Our quarterback situation might eventually be the envy of our league. We're not going to play short at that position."

In his next breath, Daley gushed about how impressive newcomer Tee Martin has been in just a few practices.

If you think there's room for four quarterbacks on this team's roster, long-term, think again. And there's certainly no room for a $350,000 backup.

Which brings us to Gordon, who, if he needed to see more writing on the wall, got it in the aerial essays provided by Smith and Stokes.

That Gordon being replaced by Canadian Jamie Stoddard allowed the Bombers to use Stokes as more than a backup only put an exclamation point on the whole piece.

The shifting sands can be found on the defensive side of the ball, too, particularly in the secondary, where emerging star Raheem Covington, 24, was one of six dressed DBs on the shy side of 30.

If you noticed more fire in the home side yesterday, it wasn't a coincidence.

"The greatest thing young guys bring is enthusiasm," Stoddard said. "They have a passion for the game. It's becoming a nice mix."

Where it takes the Bombers is anybody's guess.

As Daley said, yesterday's win was a "major playoff step."

No, at 3-2 under his guidance, these aren't the Alouettes. Heck, they might not even be the Argos. We'll find that out next weekend.

But one thing is certain: they're not the same, old Bombers, either.


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