Sheridan new centre of attention

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

On the surface, it appears to be a minor change.

But when Matt Sheridan switched from guard to centre this year, the veteran Winnipeg Blue Bomber had to learn a number of new responsibilities. Those included a different setup for blocking, shotgun snaps and calling blocking assignments at the line of scrimmage.

'LITTLE MORE THINKING'

"It's interesting," said the 6-foot-4, 330-pound University of Manitoba Bisons product. "Not quite as much contact as when you play guard against a standard defence, a little more thinking, a little more direction involved with this offensive scheme. I'm enjoying my time there and my prime goal is to make sure we win and, if that's by playing centre, then that's where I'll be."

Moe Elewonibi, the veteran centre Sheridan replaced, was a master at calling protection.

"You just have to understand a little bit more," Sheridan said. "I'm human and make my mistakes. The point is to make sure my rationale is the same as the coach's and to make sure we're on the same page."

NO PRESSURE: Although veteran defensive lineman Joe Fleming was the key component in the trade that sent quarterback Khari Jones to Calgary last season, he does not feel any added responsibility this season.

"Not because of the trade but I feel responsibility every time I step on the field to represent my teammates, the coaching staff, ownership," said Fleming, who was obtained along with safety Wes Lysack and fullback Scott Regimbald. "I would never worry about that (trade). You can't please everyone so, if I'm trying to make people happy, thinking it was a good trade or a bad trade, I'd be worried about the wrong things."

It is already one of the greatest trades in CFL history as the Stampeders subsequently released both Jones and fullback Randy Bowles, leaving Calgary only a draft pick to show for the barter.

GROWING PAINS: Even the players admit that it will take time for this team to gel.

"Obviously, there are a lot of guys on this team you haven't spent years playing together with, which is where other teams have an advantage," said veteran defensive lineman Doug Brown. "But sometimes, the variables, the dynamics, emotion, excitement and energy and things like that can overcome a lack of cohesion from experience.

"While we may be behind the gun a little bit in terms of continuity and timing and guys playing together, you can overcome that with other things. So, it's not something that you can use as an excuse."

And it is part of the process.

"Those are the things that you build on and things that are actually fun to do," Fleming said. "The more time you spend with your teammates, the more you put into getting know a guy and getting to communicate with him, the closer you become as a team. Yeah, there will be some growing pains. But once you get through them, then the real fun starts."

UNDERDOGS: Bomber head coach Jim Daley doesn't mind being under the radar.

"It's totally understandable to me why we would be underdogs," he said. "The amount of change that we've had and the stage of rebuilding that we're in -- people don't want to hear that word but that's fine, I don't care. That's life. That's just the challenge of it. Whether that's extra motivation? I think our best motivation is to concentrate on our execution and that's certainly been our focus. I'm not one who has a great dependency on, 'He said this about us so we've got to prove this.' I think that wears thin."


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