GM scrambling to fill holes

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

You don't see any sweat on his brow, and he hasn't developed a nervous twitch. At least, not yet.

But you can bet your bottom buck that Winnipeg Blue Bomber general manager Brendan Taman is watching this particular training camp with a level of anxiety usually associated with, say, bungee jumping in the Grand Canyon.

One by one, Taman has watched another set of prize offensive line recruits go down, leave town, or both.

Yesterday was just another day in his nightmare, with import Kevin Breedlove the latest casualty.

Mixing so-so performance with an injury is a fatal concoction for a player trying to land a job, so when Breedlove developed shoulder pain, his fate was sealed.

The way things are going, Taman might want to seal his with a mix of arsenic and hemlock.

Because the loss of Breedlove, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, was just the icing on a cake that's leaving the GM with a very bad taste in his mouth.

"I thought he could be our answer at either centre or guard," Taman lamented. "He was probably the one I thought could really be a player that didn't turn out."

Of the dozen hogs who began camp, he's also the fifth to leave -- and we haven't even reached the first cut-down day, yet.

A blind fisherman doesn't hit as many snags as Taman has in trying to rebuild his front five over the years.

Already, the Bombers have airlifted in three new O-linemen during camp.

"It's very frustrating," Taman acknowledged. "You plan all off-season with guys you have high hopes for ... and then we get a day into camp, and it's right out the window. You might as well start from scratch. And you basically do."

If that wasn't bad enough, Taman's most touted receiving recruit, little Vinny Sutherland, is hobbled by a hamstring pull that could end his tryout before it really begins.

All this would leave any GM a tad unsettled going into his team's first pre-season game of the year, tomorrow night in Edmonton.

There's more, though.

You see, the spotlight on Taman has never been more intense than it is right now.

As you may have noticed, he's the only member of the Bomber braintrust who's been around since 1999. The president has been changed, the head coach is new and so is the entire coaching staff.

Guess who'll feel the most heat if this team continues to slide backward, as it has the last three seasons? Think it might be the guy in charge of finding talent?

"I've been flying under the radar all along," Taman admitted of his career, to date. "So, no, I probably haven't been in this kind of situation before. Yeah, I feel pressure. Who wouldn't, really?

"It's no question when Dave (Ritchie) left, the spotlight came onto me, which I totally understand. If we can't (turn it around), the people won't be very happy, and I'm sure the first one to hear about it will be me."

It's not that Taman hasn't been responsible for importing some key pieces to the puzzle.

Receiver Wane McGarity, quarterback Spergon Wynn, defenders Sean Woodson, Willie Fells and Omar Evans and lineman Mike Abou-Mechrek might all be key acquisitions, when all is said and done.

'We'll be OK'

And don't forget the trade that brought starters Joe Fleming, Wes Lysack and Scott Regimbald from Calgary last September.

"I think we're going to be OK, if we ever get to the OK part," Taman said. "That sounds corny, but if we can keep everybody healthy and together as a unit and let them work together the next two weeks, I think we'll be OK."

The whole thing has to gel in a hurry, though, maybe not into a first-place unit, but certainly into a playoff contender.

Because another 7-11 season, and Taman might just find himself working at one.


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