Mending the secondary

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

Omar Evans waited patiently for nine days.

Finally, someone from the print media wanted to talk to him.

"I've been waiting for y'all," Evans said yesterday after two rain-soaked workouts at Canad Inns Stadium. "Everybody else got their article. What's taken y'all so long?

"You got a good picture of me? Make sure I got a good picture, too."

Apparently, Evans likes publicity. If the Winnipeg Blue Bombers cornerback keeps performing like he has in training camp, he'll be getting plenty of pub in 2005.

Leg up

There are 15 defensive backs in camp battling for the five starting spots, but Evans, acquired by the Bombers from Calgary on May 20, has gotten a leg up on the strong-side cornerback position.

Winnipeg native Wes Lysack is a lock at safety and Tim Carter, who missed all of last season because of an elbow injury, is looking good between Lysack and Evans at the strong-side halfback spot.

That's not a bad start for the Bombers, who allowed just more than 306 passing yards per game last season.

"We've got a good group of DBs," secondary coach Dave Easley said. "I'm really pleased with their progress. Some are a little bit better than others, and they're just starting to show it."

The battles on the other side of Lysack are poised to go down to the wire. Stanford Samuels, who gets better every day, is locking horns with Cedric Dickerson and Stephen Fisher at the halfback spot, while William Fields, Justin Coleman, Markese Fitzgerald and Maurice Tucker are duking it out on the corner.

"Stanford Samuels continues to shine as a rookie who's never been in the country and is adapting quickly to a whole different kind of game," head coach Jim Daley said. "He's really an eye-catcher for me."

Daley also reserved praise for Evans, who's come on strong this week.

"When I first came to camp I was working with the fourth string and the third string," Evans said. "They were bringing me along slowly, and I understand, because stuff was pretty much already set before I got traded."

Speaking of being traded, Evans is getting used to that. He spent two years in Saskatchewan before signing as a free agent with Montreal in 2003. He was then shipped off to the Stamps in January 2004 for Kelly Malveaux.

Evans, who's known for watching copious amounts of game film, broke his wrist in Calgary's second pre-season game last year and played only nine games.

New Stamps coach Tom Higgins then decided last month to go with younger players at his position, so Evans, 28, was off to Winnipeg.

"I'm just getting used to some of the guys here, especially Tim Carter," Evans said. "He's coming off a major injury, as well as myself, so it's good that we have that fire in us.

"We're just trying to come back and let everybody know that we still can play this game and just trying to get that continuity down."

With Winnipeg being his fourth team in five years, Evans would like to settle down in Blue and Gold and play a major role in turning around the team's air defence.

"I'm going to go out there and help the secondary get back, because I know last year it took a lot of bumps and bruises, because they were young," he said. "But we're definitely going to change that around this year."

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GETTING DEFENSIVE

There are 15 defensive backs competing for five starting jobs. Here are the specific positions and the hopefuls in alphabetical order:

STRONG-SIDE CORNERBACK

- Boyd Barrett

- Omar Evans

- Mesene Louisdor

STRONG-SIDE HALFBACK

- Jayson Bray

- Tim Carter

SAFETY

- Shawn Gallant

- Wes Lysack

- John Sullivan

WEAK-SIDE HALFBACK

- Cedric Dickerson

- Stephen Fisher

- Stanford Samuels

WEAK-SIDE CORNERBACK

- Justin Coleman

- William Fields

- Markese Fitzgerald

- Maurice Tucker


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