Blue ink new Mr. Nasty

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

He could provide the ingredient missing on the offensive line since Mr. Nasty, Eric Wilson, headed south.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers confirmed the signing of free agent O-lineman Mike Abou-Mechrek for a year and an option yesterday.

"He's got that attitude that we've always liked," said Bombers GM Brendan Taman. "Mike is a good, scrappy kid. He played hurt most of last year. He broke his thumb when he was playing against us here and stayed in the game. And he kept playing games without any tape or anything on his thumb. And he had a shoulder problem but kept on playing. He's tough."

That shoulder is OK now, Taman assured.

"I like to think that I have that (toughness) as part of my game and hope it can help us," Abou-Mechrek said from Toronto. "But there's tough players there (Winnipeg), too."

Abou-Mechrek, 29, started his CFL career in Winnipeg after being drafted in 1999. The Ottawa Renegades claimed the 6-foot-6, 305-pound Western Ontario product in the 2002 expansion draft and he has been a stalwart on the Ottawa line since. But now he is returning to the Blue and Gold fold.

"It's good, I'm excited," said Abou-Mechrek, who can play both guard and tackle. "I'm really looking forward to coming back."

And he will be pretty much guaranteed a starting spot.

"Mike brings valuable experience and aggressiveness to our offensive line," Bombers head coach Jim Daley said in a release.

Taman was so determined to land Abou-Mechrek that he flew to Toronto on Tuesday to ink him to a pact.

"We didn't want to lose him," Taman said. "We were hoping to get a Canadian offensive lineman, which we did. And (Abou-Mechrek's) the guy we wanted.

"But the available O-linemen were getting pretty slim. And Mike was either going to play in the east or come to Winnipeg. So we wanted to make sure we could get him. He had a Winnipeg Jets T-shirt on (Tuesday) so that might have been a message to bring him back."

And the ex-Bomber felt the love.

"They really made me feel wanted," said Abou-Mechrek, who spurned an offer from Hamilton. "Brendan made the decision for me, setting it up so my fiancee can fly there (from Toronto where she is in the hair care business) a few times."

However, speculation that Abou-Mechrek signed for about $100,000 is "not quite accurate," Taman said.

Taman met with other players in Toronto, possibly defensive end Roger Dunbrack and/or receiver Corey Grant, both free agents.


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