Mudge back on road

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Yes, that is a slimmer, healthier Dave Mudge taking to the field for Winnipeg's training camp at Canad Inns Stadium these days.

Not only is the offensive tackle now unburdened by the problems of recovering from surgery (torn ACL) that plagued him in last year's camp but he has welcomed an old friend back as the Blue Bombers' offensive line coach -- Mike Gibson (who also doubles as the offensive co-ordinator).

"I definitely feel better," Mudge said yesterday. "I'm moving a lot better and I'm a lot lighter than I have been so, to be out there and to be able to move around is a good thing."

Mudge, 30, dropped to 297 pounds from about 310-315 last season when his rehab delayed his road work.

"That's where I like to play," said the Whitby, Ont., native. "Last year, I was a bit heavy because I started to run late.

"Also, we're working harder on individual stuff. We're working on technique and things and that's really good. I'm excited because coach Gibson's back. As a team, we had a great year (2001) and he had the O-line playing very, very well."

That would be the year that Mudge won the award as the CFL's top offensive lineman and it marked the last time the Bombers appeared in the Grey Cup.

SLIMMER MILLER: Because he followed orders to slim down, veteran FB Wade Miller has improved his chances to continue his pro career, said Bomber head coach Jim Daley.

"He is a fullback who has worked in the off-season doing what I told him to do," Daley said. "He's much more supple than he was last year. Now I didn't say he was supple, just more supple and flexible. Right now, his role is as a backup and special teams. Right now, he needs to run down the field nine or 10 times a game on special teams.

"If he can play like he did before on special teams, he can make the team."

FIRST TASTE: His Winnipeg Rifles teammate, Simon Blaszczak, has been getting razzed for his new nickname, "Mini-Milt," but DE Jeff Noga does not have one yet.

"I'm OK if I don't get one," he said.

Like Blaszczak, the 6-foot-3, 258-pound Winnipegger is getting his first taste of pro camp.

"It's been a lot of work but everybody's been very supportive and encouraging, and it makes me better for it," said Noga. "I knew coming in, I didn't have any experience but each day, I'm getting more comfortable with it. So, it's not bothering me as much any more."

HASHMARKS: Bomber president/CEO Lyle Bauer, who is battling throat cancer, related that the there was positive news from his last round of tests ... Never Alone bracelets are still available at both the Bomber office and Bomber Store, as well as Ticketmaster, with proceeds going to CancerCare Manitoba ... The Toronto Argonauts may have some interest in former Bomber QB Stanley Jackson ... Global TV will air a Bomber special this Saturday at 6:30 p.m.: Blue and Gold, 75 Years ... Running back Marvin Townes is listed as day-to-day with leg cramps.


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