Blue corral boss hog

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have put their top hog back in the pen.

The CFL team announced yesterday that it had signed guard Matt Sheridan to a two-year contract with an option for a third. He would have become a free agent Feb. 15.

The 27-year-old, who grew up in Winnipeg and played for the University of Manitoba Bisons, was voted the Bombers top offensive lineman last season, and the brass is ecstatic to have him back.

"Matt Sheridan is going to be one of the dominant offensive lineman in this league during his career," head coach Jim Daley said yesterday from his Calgary home. "He's a very, very strong guard with the ability to play tackle, and not many have the ability to play both.

"... He's just starting to know the game and he's going to be a great player."

If Sheridan is going to have as good a career as Daley thinks he'll have, it will more than likely happen on Maroons Road.

"Being in Winnipeg has always been my one intent," he said. "It would take something extraordinary and something special to get me to leave here. I feel a tie to this town -- not only growing up here, but also it's where I got my foot in the door.

"And there are a lot of people associated with this organization that have been very good to me and they've given me a lot of chances and a lot of opportunities. I see no reason to leave."

Sheridan's signing means the Bombers have locked up arguably their top three free agents. Defensive tackle Joe Fleming and fullback Scott Regimbald, who were part of the Khari Jones deal in September, agreed to deals last month.

Sheridan, who checks in at 6-foot-4 and 360 pounds, will be looked upon to anchor an offensive line that improved steadily following Dave Ritchie's firing on Aug. 8. Winnipeg's O-line has been a bane for several seasons, but Daley appears to be the coach who will turn it around.

And he expects Sheridan to be front and centre during that revival.

"I told him: I think he has so much potential and we're going to push him so hard, he will wonder why he signed," Daley said. "And he said, 'Coach, that's why I signed.' That was a great response on his part."

Another reason for the Bombers to be full of glee is Sheridan's health. He has squashed the injury bug that plagued him during his rookie and sophomore seasons and has suited up for every game over the past two seasons.

Essentially, it was an easy deal to complete.

"I'm gifted to be able to play a sport for a living," Sheridan said. "I know there's a lot of guys that would love to be in my place and I don't take it for granted, so it's a good situation.

"We came to an agreement, and I get to play in front of my friends and my family. What more could you ask for?"


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