Blue cut veterans

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

The good news is that three players were trimmed from that godawful secondary of 2004.

The bad news is that yet another highly-touted recruit failed to meet expectations.

And the ugly news is that 13 prospective Winnipeg Blue Bombers are now seeking employment elsewhere.

Defensive backs Jayson Bray, Stephen Fisher and Markese Fitzgerald -- who all suited up for the Bombers last season -- were among the cuts the CFL club announced yesterday.

'TOUGH CUTS'

"Those are tough cuts when it's veterans but it is an indication that our young guys are playing pretty good football," said head coach Jim Daley.

But perhaps the biggest surprise was the release of import defensive end Marcus Jones, who arrived with impressive credentials -- and was also the one who knocked Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray out of Friday's game against the Eskimos. Rookie Gavan Walls is now fighting veteran Antwone Young for one end spot.

"Marcus has some very good pass rushes and made some very good plays, and shows a lot of fine skill," Daley said. "We just felt that Gavan, at this point, played the run and rushed the passer with a little bit more expertise and a little bit more understanding of our defence than some of the other guys that we had to let go."

Others released were: receivers Dimitrius Breedlove and Patrick Thibeault, DEs Jason Clark and Doug Goodwin, CB Mesene Louisdor, DL Ben Lynch, LB Tony Ortiz, OL Devin Rodger and RB Marvin Townes.

"This is always a very hard day in any CFL camp," Daley said. "You hate like heck to see men lose their opportunity to play on a team because this is how they provide for their families."

Bombers must still cut three more players by tonight while injured RB Cory Olynick may "retire."

SAFE PRACTICE: Former Ottawa Renegades S Shawn Gallant had an impressive debut with the Bombers in Friday's pre-season match -- after apparently holding back in camp.

"I'm at that point now where -- I don't want to say I'm saving myself -- but I'm trying to practise smart so I don't have to stress the knee more than I have to, and do what I have to do so that I'm ready for the game," said Gallant, who missed most of the last two seasons with non-football-related injuries. "And I'm going to be there for the game, you don't have to worry about that.

"When you come to a new team, you're just sitting back there watching everything. So, I am quiet right now ... But I just sit back right now and listen. But when the game time comes, I'm going to turn it on."

HASHMARKS: QB Tee Martin, who was nursing a sore knee, practised yesterday and, if the irritation does not flare up again, he will play against the Eskimos when they come to town Thursday ... WR Vinnie Sutherland and LB Ron Ockimey also returned to practice following injuries ... LB Ryland Wickman nursed a groin pull while DB Justin Coleman has an ankle problem ... With the release of Townes, KR Keith Stokes was back taking turns at tailback.


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