McGriggs has a lock on LB

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Lamar McGriggs is on easy street.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker should be kicking back, putting his feet up and coasting until his team's CFL regular season begins next Saturday night in Regina.

Instead, he'll be running around Canad Inns Stadium tonight like a madman, trying to put the exclamation point on retaining a starting spot that he had never been so close to losing.

McGriggs was in a training camp battle with Ron Ockimey for one of the outside linebacker positions. We use the term "was" because Ockimey has been MIA for the past 10 days or so with a groin injury.

Ockimey missed last Friday's exhibition opener in Edmonton, and he won't play tonight when the Bombers host the Eskimos in the final pre-season game before Saturday's final cuts.

That's not good for Ockimey.

It's great for McGriggs.

COMFORTABLE

"I still gotta do what I gotta do," McGriggs, 37, said yesterday. "It's a shame that Ron is hurt, because I like the man. I like the way he was playing, and if anything did happen to me I would be comfortable with him being in there.

"At this point in time, I just gotta go into the season doing the best that I can, because one of my main goals is to get to that Grey Cup and the other is to get back on the (CFL Players' Association all-star) poster like I was in 2001.

"That's the way I want to go out. That would be the perfect scenario right there."

McGriggs was notified last fall -- along with most other veterans -- that his job wouldn't be waiting for him this spring, so he and safety Wes Lysack worked out hard during Winnipeg's cold, harsh winter.

CAME IN PREPARED

"I just came in prepared," McGriggs said. "It was to the point where I was kind of worried about who they were bringing in. Then I got to the point where I thought, 'I've been in the NFL, and I've been in this league. Why am I worried? They ain't bringing Lawrence Taylor in or nobody like that.'

"I just wanted to focus and get back to my old form."

Meanwhile, incumbent middle linebacker Ryland Wickman won't play tonight, also due to a groin injury, but Bombers head coach Jim Daley said something noteworthy yesterday that sounded like good news for the five-year veteran.

"If he plays (tonight), he won't be available next week," Daley said.

Next week, of course, is Winnipeg's season opener in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Daley, however, said Wickman's absence could cause a quandary if his competition shines tonight like it did last Friday.

"If Willie Fells comes out at middle linebacker and plays like he did last week, and you have an outstanding player like Ryland Wickman who's unable to play because of an injury, that's the type of dilemmas you, as coaches, have to deal with," he said.


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