The first step towards rebuilding the Blue Bombers starts with the grunt workers -- the blood-caked body guards hired to protect the quarterback.
Trouble is, the number of those Hogs at Winnipeg's training camp is dwindling daily.
First, offensive lineman Orlando Bobo filed retirement papers before camp even started as a negotiations ploy. Then, Canuck O-lineman Matt Sheridan got a headache after taking a blow to the jaw Sunday.
But yesterday, it was club GM Brendan Taman who was reaching for that vial of Tylenol. That was after Canadian Todd Krenbrink quit and two other Hogs were sent to the doctor.
"I don't want to say it's making my blood boil but it's more than scary," said Taman, referring to what has become an annual nightmare.
WILL NOT PRACTICE
Sheridan will not practise today as club doctors are being careful with a head injury. Import O-lineman Pete Campion will also sit out with a knee injury. However, Canadian Hog Mike Abou-Mechrek will be able to practise despite an injured thumb.
Taman planned to bring 13 O-linemen to camp. The Bombers are down to nine able bodies today.
"They're a little sore and tired right now but that comes with the territory," said offensive line coach Mike Gibson.
Taman has already discussed possible replacements with head coach Jim Daley, including CFL veterans Chris Burns and Seth Dittman. However, he would prefer a younger recruit.
"I've got guys on my ready list but I never dreamed of having to give them a call," he said.
Taman says he will not send an SOS to Bobo.
"He can be either a Canadian or an American but he's got to be a player who can make our team," Daley said.
Both Daley and Taman were disappointed in Krenbrink's decision, especially coming after camp started.
"He came to see me and said his heart's not in it any more," Daley said. "If your heart's not in it, you can't make it.
"I thought of him very highly as a potential player. But what I think has no merit. Certainly, it is a little surprising but, in talking to him over the winter, I had some reservations over whether he really wanted this. If a player doesn't have a hunger to do what we want him to do, he's going to hate every minute of it."
Krenbrink's wife recently had a baby and he was apparently reluctant to leave his wife and infant behind in Saskatchewan to pursue his pro career. The 6-foot-7, 320-pounder had been plucked in the third round of the 2004 Canadian College Draft. Krenbrink, 27, has offiicially retired.
Ironically, Daley had discussed just how tough it was going to be to replace Bobo and veteran Moe Elewonibi (B.C.) this season before disclosing Krenbrink's decision.
"We lost two starters from last year's O-line, which at the end of last year, had become a very good O-line," he said. "We have a long way to go to be as good an O-line as we were in the second half of last year. When you lose two starting players the calibre of players that we lost with Moe Elewonibi and Orlando Bobo, you've got big holes to fill. So, we're not there yet."