Wake-up call for vet

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Jim Daley had a chat with lineman Dave Mudge about his recent play...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Jim Daley had a chat with lineman Dave Mudge about his recent play on Sunday. (Winnipeg Sun File Photo)

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

Dave Mudge probably wanted to be anywhere else on the planet yesterday morning.

Unfortunately, he found himself in the coach's office on Maroons Road, and the topic was not a pleasant one.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Jim Daley got right to the point. He told the veteran offensive lineman that he isn't playing well.

It was blunt, and it was meant to serve as a wakeup call, but it was something Mudge knew was coming.

"It's not a highlight, obviously," said Mudge, who bravely faced several members of the media yesterday afternoon. "When you're playing it's not what you want to hear and not what you want to do, so you try to play well to avoid that kind of conversation."

New offensive linemen John Feugill, a former Toronto Argonaut who originally joined the team a couple weeks ago, and Dan Goodspeed, who was signed Saturday, were both on the field yesterday when the Bombers returned to practice after their second straight loss to start the season -- a 27-8 setback to the Edmonton Eskimos on Thursday.

In fact, the two newcomers were members of the first-team offence, with Goodspeed at left tackle in place of Jermese Jones and Feugill in Mudge's right tackle spot, to show what they could do.

STRUGGLING

"Dave would be the first guy to tell you that he is struggling for some reason at this stage," Daley said. "He's too good a player and has too good a career here to give up on.

"He's a good person and a good player, but Dave understandably is aware, as we are, that he is in a bit of a rut, and hopefully he can fight his way out of it, because he's too valuable to us as a Canadian starter to give up on.

"We certainly don't want to do that."

Mudge, who was the CFL's most outstanding lineman in 2001, admitted that he doesn't really know why he's in a funk or how he's going to get out of it, but he's doing all he can to improve.

"I guess it's not coming along quick enough, and they're really going to be pushing me this week to get that fixed," Mudge said.

Daley said there could be as many as two offensive line changes for Thursday's home game against the Calgary Stampeders, but he would prefer to make none.

"My ideal thing would be to have Dave Mudge fight through the rut he's in," Daley said. "I talked with Dave this morning. He's in total agreement that he is struggling. He's not sure why, and quite honestly we're not sure why, either.

"He's such a good football player with good skills. We need him out of his rut. We need him playing well."

The offensive line, which also includes Dan Gyetvai at left guard, Matt Sheridan at centre and Mike Abou-Mechrek at right guard, was singled out by Daley after Thursday's loss, which also marked the CFL debut of Bombers quarterback Tee Martin.

The O-line got manhandled by the Eskimos defensive line, which resulted in Martin getting sacked six times and running back Charles Roberts managing just 31 yards on 10 carries.


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